Stella Gibbons wrote an underrated classic. In a gist, Cold Comfort Farm is a parody of society novels and Gibbons brilliantly captures the subtleties of these communities in big ways.
Flora Poste, the protagonist and a skilled socialite, moves from the city to live with distant relatives on their rundown farm. She seeks to meddle in their lives–making them better in her eyes, and theirs. She wants an adventure, avoiding the life of work she would have to assume after the death of her parents. If read expecting sarcasm, this novel will have you laughing out loud, even if you’re reading in a room by yourself.
As much as this is a parody of society novels, I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys them. This is the novel that Fanny Price, from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, would have written if she was writing Jane Austen’s Emma.
Modern readers of Jane Austen or DH Lawrence are reading what seems like a different world that merely played out on the soil we live on. Stella Gibbons seems to agree and uses Cold Comfort Farm as a way to point out all these details that make our current society different (and sometimes similar) to those in classic novels.
If you can’t find Cold Comfort Farm in your local book store (which I highly recommend you try to support them) you can purchase it from Amazon here.