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Modern Classics Cold Comfort Farm (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – International Edition, May 2, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 247 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In Gibbons's classic tale, first published in 1932, a resourceful young heroine finds herself in the gloomy, overwrought world of a Hardy or Bronte novel and proceeds to organize everyone out of their romantic tragedies into the pleasures of normal life. Flora Poste, orphaned at 19, chooses to live with relatives at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex, where cows are named Feckless, Aimless, Pointless, and Graceless, and the proprietors, the dour Starkadder family, are tyrannized by Flora's mysterious aunt, who controls the household from a locked room. Flora's confident and clever management of an alarming cast of eccentrics is only half the pleasure of this novel. The other half is Gibbons's wicked sendup of romantic cliches, from the mad woman in the attic to the druidical peasants with their West Country accents and mystical herbs. Anne Massey's skillful rendering of a variety of accents will make this story more accessible to American audiences. Recommended for both literary and popular collections.
- Sharon Cumberland, Graduate Ctr., CUNY
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Very probably the funniest book ever written Sunday Times Screamingly funny and wildly subversive -- Marian Keyes Guardian Delicious ... Cold Comfort Farm has the sunniness of a P. G. Wodehouse and the comic aplomb of Evelyn Waugh's Scoop' Independent One of the finest parodies written in English...a wickedly brilliant skit -- Robert Macfarlane Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic (May 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,241,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Could there be such a thing as a "slapstick" novel of manners? This one might qualify, for its humour both witty and broad and its country-house setting.
Our highly-educated heroine Flora Poste, intelligent, witty, but fashion-addled, aimless, and seemingly shallow, descends on her rural relatives when her parents die leaving her penniless. Sharp parodies of rural England, the family includes, among others, an insane matriarch locked in her room, a love-mad and graceless granddaughter, a grandson who plays the same role among the maids that the bull does among the cows, an antique manservant who fails to notice when a cow's leg falls off. In short order Flora contrives to marry off the granddaughter to a local grandee, packs the grandson off to Hollywood, and generally manages things so craftily that everyone not only lives Happily Ever After but also does so with Good Manners and better haircuts.
The most winning feature of Gibbon's book (after the fact that it is hysterically funny) is that she skewers not only the conventions of the 1930s upper classes to which Flora belongs, but also the working class denizens of the farm. At first everyone seems faintly ridiculous but over time your affections for ALL these characters grows. By the end you are actually happy to see them all happily settled, and Flora no longer seems like a conniver but a clever and sympathetic heroine-more Elizabeth Bennet than Becky Sharpe. A very neat trick on the part of the author, and one well worth the discovering.
One miniscule note of caution: Gibbons, writing in the 1930s, sets her novel "in the near future," and adds a couple of futuristic features that confuse the casual reader-telephones with televisions in them so you can see the speaker, references to the "Anglo-Nicaraguan War" and the like. You may safely ignore them without diminishing the book.
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Format: Paperback
I read the book as part of a book club. We all found it amusing and entertaining. Be warned - this is not the same text as originally published. I ordered this edition because it would ship sooner than others which appeared higher on the sort list. While the story arc is the same, and the characters as quirky, it became apparent that my version misses a lot of the descriptive prose my friend all read. Skip this edition and get the full deal.
4 Comments 104 of 107 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Every now and then, usually when life gets a bit too stressful, I need a good belly laugh. And if an author can do it in a clever fashion, then all the better. Such was the case with Stella Gibbon's Cold Comfort Farm.

Written in 1932, and set in "the near future," it's the story of the Starkadder family and what happens when they have a run in with the determined Flora Poste. Flora is one of those heroines who is decidedly cheerful, and very intent on fixing up other peoples messes and untidiness. Forced with the decision to either throw herself on the mercy of some relations goodwill to take her in, or (horrors!) get a job, Flora writes to the various relations that she has in search of a home after the demise of her parents. In exchange, Flora will hand over her slight inheritance of a hundred pounds a year.

And it seems the only relations who do want her are the Starkadders, off in the downs of Sussex. Flora is imagining a tidy home farm. What she gets is a set of cranky, eccentric if not outright insane, cousins, with the ringleader, Aunt Ada Doom in the middle of it all. There is the son of Ada, Amos Starkadder, who runs the farm, but spends Tuesday nights off preaching fire and brimstone to the Brethren; his wife Judith who worships her youngest and views the world as perpetual misery and just wishes that everyone would leave her alone. Pretty Elfine, all of seventeen, spends her days running wild and imagining herself a dryad, twigs and leaves included. And then there are the boys, most notably, Reuben, who loves farming, but Amos doesn't trust him, and Seth, an oversexed, hunk of manhood who seems to have nothing but sex on the brain, but the reality is much more interesting. And then the ancient, muttering Adam, who 'cletters' the dishes with thorny twigs.
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2 Comments 86 of 90 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review applies ONLY to the edition of "Cold Comfort Farm" sold by BN Publishing. It is an abridged edition - or as one reviewer called it, a "dumbed-down" version. It still retains some entertainment value, but reads more like a novelization for teens of the 1995 Kate Beckinsale move (which I liked very much) than great literature. I couldn't believe this was a book with such a wonderful reputation, and then I realized this wasn't what Stella Gibbons actually wrote. To make matters truly annoying, I had to confirm my suspicions from external sources. There is absolutely no indication in the book itself that it's anything other than the original. I certainly hope to get the real thing some day, and for anyone else I strongly recommend doing that, and not repeating my mistake.

A couple other reviewers have made this point before, but I feel it requires additional emphasis. Those reviews are buried among the high praises of people most of whom probably read unabridged editions, not this one. I don't know exactly how this happens, but I've noticed other cases where reviews clearly don't apply to the particular edition described on that page.
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