WBN 71: Cold Comfort Farm

Why did no-one ever tell me about Cold Comfort Farm? Honestly, there I was devouring and re-reading Anne of Green Gables and every sequel going, despite the fact they got steadily worse as the series went on, and no-one ever mentioned that there was a hilarious British version, with a heroine more grown up and a thousand times more practical, but just as funny and likeable and engaging.

Originally written as a parody of the rural dramas so popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Cold Comfort Farm has somehow outlived many of those novels and become enjoyable in its own right.

Newly orphaned Flora Poste is twenty years old, and needs somewhere to live. After applying to all her relatives, she chooses to move to Cold Comfort Farm, where the most interesting of her relatives live. Despite their initial hostility, she soon finds herself putting them all to rights with gentle hints, careful schemes and ruthlessly practical solutions.

I found Cold Comfort Farm completely absorbing, and as a light hearted read it’s definitely up there with the best! Whilst I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been a bit more familiar with the novels it parodies, it works really well as a stand alone story. Flora and her relatives are among the most singular and memorable of characters, and I loved their unusual ways and the dry, droll way Gibbons has of describing them. Flora is a whirlwind of activity, and a force to be reckoned with. Somehow, using the subtlest of methods, she forces everyone to take the path she has planned for them.

My most recent books haven’t exactly been the cheeriest, so it was lovely to read something that actually made me laugh out loud, and for once I didn’t even come close to tears! I can absolutely see why this made it into the top 100, despite it’s lack of literary aspirations: because it’s chock full of people and places that readers love. I’m so happy people voted with their hearts, so I could discover it too.

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