Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (3/5)

First published: 1932
Page count: 233

The back says: 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 the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lustful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years. 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 ruthless parody of rural melodramas and purple prose, "Cold Comfort Farm" is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time.

I say: This was my third attempt at reading Cold Comfort Farm, previously having retired it after a mere 20 or so pages in. I was about to do the same this time around, but then decided to just work my way through it so that I could finally remove it from my 100 Classics Challenge.
I didn’t find this very funny at all. In fact, I chuckled twice and spent the rest of the time in a daze of sorts. It was all such unchallenging reading that I was constantly falling asleep from boredom and lack of interest. Except for when I was getting annoyed at the vernacular – my pet peeve.

I know that this is a parody, and as such Flora was the annoying busybody that thought she knew everything and was constantly looking down her nose at everyone. The Starkadders were a ragtag family of people who were too lazy to do anything right – until Flora shows up and sorts them all out. Nothing about any of the characters interested me, and I couldn’t be bothered to engage any emotional attachment to them.

The reason this is getting a 3/5 is because it is a parody it works; all the necessary stereotypes are there, and it would be nice as a conversational piece, but that’s as far as it goes.

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