Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Child . . . Child . . .

Today I was feeling somewhat flat and listless.  At work I wore the mask, but underneath I felt out of sorts.  This wasn't made any better by an after work meeting.
When I finally arrived home I decided that while I waited for AGA to arrive, I would make a nice cup of tea, sit out on the balcony, and read my book.
This photograph was taken this afternoon by Kirk Dale
Cold Comfort Farm.

Have you read it?

I first read it in the 1990s and fell in love it.

It is an extremely amusing book.

I like it a lot.

The book was written by Stella Gibbons (1901-1989) and published in 1932.  In the following year it won the Prix Etranger for the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize which caused Virginia Woolf to utter some extremely waspish comments.
Seeing Virginia Woolf's feather's ruffled makes me happy too!

Cold Comfort Farm is a parody, a comedy laughing gentle at the writings of Thomas Hardy, D. H. Lawrence, and the rural dramas of the day - so full of angst and overwrought description, tedious in their long-windedness.

Here is the review printed at the back of my 2009, Penguin Books edition:

"When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex.  At the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets he doomed Starkadders, an eccentric group of relatives suffering from a wide variety of ailments.  But Flora loves nothing better than to organise other people.  Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand.  A hilarious and merciless parody of rural melodramas, Cold Comfort Farm is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time."

Here is one quote for you:
(The scene is between Seth and his mother, Judith)
Judith's breath came in long shudders.  She thrust her arms deeper into her shawl.  The porridge gave an ominous leering heave; it might almost have been endowed with life, so uncannily did its movements keep pace with the human passions that throbbed above it.
'Cur', said Judith, levelly, at last, 'Coward! Liar! Libertine!  Who were you with last night?  Moll at the mill or Violet at the vicarage?  Or Ivy, perhaps, at the ironmongery?  Seth - my son . . . Her deep, dry voice quivered, but she whipped it back, and her next words flew at him like a lash.
'Do you want to break my heart?'
'Yes,' said Seth, with an elemental simplicity.
The porridge boiled over.

The book was made into a movie in 1995 which I have on DVD but while it is itself rather amusing; it lacks the wit, the comic description, and the word play that I love in the book.

Funny and witty, it is never cruel, and the ending is a happy one for everyone involved.

I recommend you to this book -

- and I recommend Stella Gibbons!
This photograph comes from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Website


  1. Hello Kirk:
    It must now be many years since we read 'Cold Comfort Farm' which we do recall having once been set as an 'A' Level text in schools. That seems now rather an odd choice for whilst we remember it as very entertaining, and very readable, we wonder if it could, for example, be considered comparable with 'The Rainbow' [always a popular choice] or the poems of Gerald Manley Hopkins? That said, this post is a prompt to revisit what is, when all is said and done, a very entertaining novel.

    Do you have a down on Virginia Woolf?!!

    We do hope that the gloom of earlier today has lifted and you are restored to normal spirits.

  2. Hello Jane and Lance,
    Thank you for your comments. I wish I had been set such a book, although upon reflection I doubt I would have appreciated it. We were given the joys of Animal Farm and Brave New World to work on....
    Gerard Manley Hopkins? Was it 'The Windhover'? That is the one I was set.

    No I have no real down on VW except that she didn't want SG to win because her friend wanted the prize money to buy a new carpet. Her letters were afterwards most disparaging of Miss Gibbons.

    Yes my gloom is gone thanks to that superb restorative: a cup of tea - or two.

  3. Hi Kirk. I too love this book, AND, I have to say, the film. It absolutely rolls along in its own unique way. Nothing like it.

    1. Hi Faisal,
      I agree with you. While not exactly the same as the book, the film more than holds its own. The actors chosen to portray the characters are perfect and add to the enjoyment. And now having written this I have a feeling I may watch it again over the weekend!

  4. There's nothing worse than politics in the Arts ... save politics itself!

  5. Dear Kirk - thank you so much for introducing yourself to me. I notice that you have already met one or two of my very good blogging friends. From a quick look at your blog I can see that I shall enjoy my visits here. Catch up with you after my travels.

    1. Dear Rosemary,
      Thank you for your nice comment and yes, I am meeting some very nice people in this blog world!
      Bye for now and have a safe journey.

  6. Hi Kirk, thanks for the recommendation. This is a book I always meant to read but somehow never got round to, so if I can tear myself away from my current diet of sci fi, I'll make a reading space for this.

    Is it bad form to comment on 2 posts in one? Since blogosphere etiquette is so new, I will chance it. I loved the photos of your idyllic weekend with your visiting friends. Having that on your door step, of course, is the compensation for not being able to garden in winter.

    glad to hear the tea worked its magic and your flat listnessness lifted very soon.
    cheers, catmint

    1. Dear catmint,
      I hope you will enjoy this book as it is great fun.
      No I don't think that it bad form to comment on two posts in one. Sometimes it seems that writing a blog is like writing a letter to a good friend and so one can say all sorts of things in it!
      Such visits are indeed compensation for not having a garden but as time passes I wish more and more to have a plot of our own. Time will tell...
      Bye for now,

  7. I'm a fan of Cold Comfort Farm too, in fact I sometimes think Stella Gibbons may have met my family. Many years ago I heard a reading on the radio entitled A Cold Comfort Christmas. I'm not sure if it was taken from the book or a stand alone piece. I would love to find it.

    1. Hello Susan,
      yes there was a short story that SG wrote entitled A Cold Comfort Christmas. I had a look on and found that there is also Conference at Cold Comfort! I have added these to AGAs wish list in case he is thinking of buying me a present!
      Bye for now

    2. Thanks for the info Kirk. I think they will be on my list too.