Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Stella Gibbons - "Cold Comfort Farm"

Publ: 18932 ISBN: 0140001409
Rating: ***

When I was young (i.e. until about a month or so ago) I though this was American book. I also, if asked, would have suggested it might be Victorian. All I really knew was that it was a classic and I hadn't read it. The plot, vaguely, I had picked up in my literary travels and knew it revolved around a girl who had been expensively educated, was orphaned, and went to live with horrendous relatives - the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. Typical grim Victorian drama. I had failed to realise it was a comedy; set in Sussex in the 'near future' and written in the 1930s; that dear Flora was 20, modern and pragmatic; and that when she was orphaned she simply went to her relatives to avoid the hassle of having to earn her living. It's the sort of book which I would probably have rated more highly when I was in my teens but it was quite good fun, nonetheless.
My favourite bit of all is where Flora, setting off on the train, calls out 'Don't forget to feed the parrot,' leaving her bewildered companions shouting 'What parrot?' I must try that sometime.

STELLA GIBBONS. Stella Dorothea Gibbons, novelist, poet and short-story writer, was born in London in 1902. She went to the North London Collegiate School and studied journalism at University College, London. She then worked for ten years on various papers, including the Evening Standard. In 1933 she married the actor and singer Allan Webb, who died in 1959. They had one daughter. Stella Gibbons died in 1989.

1 comment:

  1. Well, well, well. I'd assumed it was not the sort of book that would interest me: I can't even give a reason except that I assumed it was rather bleak and possibly Hardyish (my ultimate turn-off).


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