Cold Comfort Farm
Stella Gibbons’ timeless tale of Flora Poste’s determined effort to tidy up dismal Cold Comfort Farm was intended as a literary send-up of the now-forgotten “loam and lovechild” school of rural melodrama, but I find it has a less comfortable social edge today, with urban modernism vanquishing the darkness of the “tortured dumb beasts” of the agricultural hinterland. Despite her prodigious competence, however, Flora is also a type of the semi-oblivious, lovable English twit one just has to root for. Moreover, in her adversary, Aunt Ada Doom, we get one of those insightful psychological portraits that satire, even in the form of grotesque caricature, makes so convincing. But here’s something that really hit home with me: After everyone has made their escape, there are still Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm . . .