coldcomfort“The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living.”

This is one of those little treasures of a novel that I didn’t even know existed until I heard a brief mention of them somewhere out in internet land and it stuck in my brain just long enough for me to hit the library.  Sort of like what happened with Agnes Grey.  I heard a podcaster rave reviews about this book, even going as far as to design some knit socks after some of the characters and, my friends, in my world?  Having inspired knit wear is one of the highest accolades one can achieve.

Miss Flora Poste has been left to fend for herself in the world.  And, despite having gobs of friends and family who are willing to look after her, settles on moving to Cold Comfort Farm – home of her cousins the Starkadders.  Descending upon the Starkadders, Flora is startled and satisfied to find them properly backwards and insane.  There is Elfine, wild and beautiful and fairylike.  Seth the young man “brimming over with sex” who finds Flora amusing, and Amos – the hellfire and brimstone preacher.  Judith, who has an unnatural obsession, and of course the matriarch – Aunt Ada Doom – who remains in her room with her memories of “something nasty in the woodshed.”  Using her smart sense and knowledge of the modern world, Flora takes it upon herself to bring the entire family around to her way of thinking and ideas on what farm living should be like.

This book was groundbreaking as a parody – most noticeably of “Wuthering Heights” although the author claimed she was parodying other books published around the same time that have since fallen out of public awareness.  I, personally, have no problem reading a parody of “Wuthering Heights” considering I severely disliked the novel.  This novel has everything of “Heights” in it, without all the emotional overflow.  Instead of drama and sickly sweet anguish, Flora brings humor and sarcasm and wit into the picture – which is much appreciated.  It has clear inspiration drawn from Wodehouse – many of the characters take themselves way too seriously while the others see them for what they really are. I found much entertainment in it once I was able to slog through the first chapter until Flora gets to the farm itself.  And I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor once in a while.

“Cold Comfort Farm” was written by Stella Gibbons and published in 1932.