Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

I saw something nasty in the woodshed’

When Flora Poste’s parents die and she realized that her income won’t allow her a comfortable life, she decides to live off of her family. The only part of it that replies to her letters are the Starkadders from Cold Comfort Farm. Despite her friend’s warnings Flora decides to make her way to Cold Comfort Farm, that very optimistically lies next to a village called Howling.

Starkadders turn out to be a family of living stereotypes, to borrow a sentence from the blurb at the back of my edition we have here: ‘cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lutsful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years.’ Flora being a bit of a busybody immediately gets to sorting out everyone’s life and putting things in order, not put off by their resistance.

The book is a merciless parody of the rural melodramas, that were apparently very popular in 1930s. I found Flora pretty annoying, but the rest of the book is really funny. People and their flaws don’t really change that quickly. It is obvious that Gibbons’ fun started already with the names, it is difficult not to laugh at the cows called Graceless, Pointless, Feckless and Aimless. I think I’d probably have even more fun if I wasn’t so annoyed by Flora. I know she was a parody of a barging in do-gooder, who always knows best, but it was still a very irritating character. The rest of the book was absolutely hilarious, which I do appreciate because it seems good comedy books are even rarer than good comedy movies. I also think it must be fantastic when adapted for radio.

What is your favorite comedy book? One that makes you laugh out loud.

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska @vkphotospace.com 

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