Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons, is a hilariously witty, tongue-in-cheek parody of the melodramatic novels published before and around the 1930’s which featured rural life at its finest: laden with the ever-present promise of impending doom and imminent despair (usually featuring a heroine prone to hysteria and fainting spells).
Gibbons’ story begins with our recently orphaned heroine, Flora Poste, deciding to eschew the horror of getting a job to pursue a far more attractive option: imposing herself on her very distant relatives at Cold Comfort Farm. Of course, upon arriving at the farm, she discovers the living conditions don’t live up to her high city girl standards. But, she nobly pushes aside her own discomfort for the sake of her relatives, for it is immediately clear that her cousins, aunt and uncle desperately need her help if they are ever to experience any kind of joy in their feeble existences. However, if she is to succeed in her quest to fix the farm up for good, she will have to take on the mighty Aunt Ada Doom.
Ever since seeing something “nasty in the woodshed” as a child, the ominous old matriarch has forbidden anyone to leave her alone at Cold Comfort Farm, managing to simultaneously rule the house and scare the living wits out of her entire family all without ever leaving the comfort of her bedroom. Flora, however, is not perturbed by this shadowy wench in the slightest. Flora as a character proves two things: (1) that there is literally nothing that can’t be accomplished by the idle mind of a busybody, and (2) that Gibbons is a comedienne of epic proportions.
Even if you happen to like those melodramatic books which are set on the great plains and undoubtedly have at least one pivotal scene in which the heroine throws herself upon the unforgiving Earth while rain pelts her back (I do thoroughly enjoy them myself), you will still find amusement in the ridicule Gibbons throws their way, I’m sure of it. And if you despise those theatrical tales of rural life crammed down your throat in high school? Then all the better!
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars