Title: Cold Comfort Farm

Author: Stella Gibbons

Date Finished: 26/07/12

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club & The Literary Classics

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

It is really nice to read a book that you know absolutely nothing about, especially when it is a classic, as many people often already know the basic story/characters.  Well this was the case with Cold Comfort Farm – I knew nothing more than that it was meant to be funny.

I was given this book for Christmas last year (having asked for it!) and that just shows you what kind of book backlog I have currently.  I buy books quicker than I read them (to say the least) so what can you expect?

Anyway, I only had one major issue with Cold Comfort Farm, and that was I found it really hard to get into.  During the holidays, it is usually the time when I plough through many books without any hassle, especially shorter books like this, but it felt hard to read. I’m not too sure why I felt this way – maybe the pace of the story was a bit slow or maybe I was just on a bit of a “literary comedown” after finishing To Kill a Mockingbird.  Well, whatever the cause, this problem ceased when I reached about half way through the book.

The plot was really good for a relatively short book and it felt finished at the end (although I can’t wait to read Conference at Cold Comfort Farm and Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm in the future too!)  I liked the way Flora dealt with each character separately, as though there were several little stories combining to make one.

Talking of characters, this is undoubtedly where this book stands out.  The characters are numerous, eccentric and utterly brilliant.  They are all unique and memorable and were (for me) what made the second half of this book a real pleasure to read.  Highlights have to be the ‘mad’ Aunt Ada, hiding upstairs and cow-obsessed Adam.

Gibbons’ prose is fantastic and it is true that she has a certain way of writing that just makes you smile.  I wouldn’t say I laughed as such, but certainly this book is a lot more humorous than most that I’ve read.  Interestingly, the setting certainly felt quite Victorian in a way and it is clear from the characters’ mannerisms and traditions that is it pre-WW2.  I don’t think I’ve read something that lies between Victorian writing and war/post-war writing  and it certainly feels like an amalgamation of the two, which I quite enjoyed.

Overall, I would heartily recommend this book as it is not too long and offers something completely different to other books.  I have to reiterate that the characters are absolutely amazing and are the reason I am keen to read more by Stella Gibbons in the future.