Review of Stella Gibbons: Cold Comfort Farm

Cold Comfort Farm (Penguin Modern Classics)Stella Gibbons
Cold Comfort Farm
[rate 5] Drain the well, there’s a neighbour missing!

So you have spent your teenage years reading the classics, possibly voluntarily, but more likely being forced to for some English class. How do you rebel? Read Cold Comfort Farm. A beautiful, funny, poigniant, deeply twisted book lampooning entire genres. Set in an unspecified period that bears a striking resemblance to the 20’s/30’s, the characters include the heroine with a talent for organising who plans to ‘live off her relatives’, the best friend whose collection of brassieres is desired by a museum, Aunt Ada Doom who saw something narsty in the woodshed, cousin Seth the farmhand who hankers to be in the movies, his mother Judith who has an incestuous fixation on him, and her husband Amos who’s sole ambition in life is to go round the country preaching in a Ford van. I challenge anyone not to have at least a snigger as Gibbons sends up (among others) Hardy, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Lawrence, Coleridge, et al.

Not much more I want to add about this book. The film staring Kate Beckinsale and Ian McKellen is a damn good adaptation and worth watching.