Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cold Comfort Farm

By: Stella Gibbons

Published: 1932


"Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, Cold Comfort Farm is a witty, irreverent parody of the works of Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence. Flora Poste, left an orphan at the end of her "expensive, athletic, and prolonged" education, sets off for her relatives at Cold Comfort Farm, despite dire warnings of doom and damnation. Once there she encounters Seth, full of rampant sexuality; Elfine, who flits in and out in a cloak that is decidedly the wrong color; Meriam, the hired girl who gets pregnant every year when the "sukebind is in bloom;" and Aunt Ada Doom, the aging, reclusive matriarch who once "saw something nasty in the woodshed." Flora decides to "tidy up life at Cold Comfort Farm." Mocking Hardy's and Lawrence's melodrama, sensuality, and use of symbolism, Stella Gibbons has Flora, with her no-nonsense attitude, give Elfine a good haircut, teach Meriam some elementary lessons in birth control and send various morose, rural relatives off to happier fates. Cold Comfort Farm is funny even without a background in Hardy or Lawrence, but for those readers who have been frustrated attempting to find exactly where in Tess of the D'Urbervilles Tess is "seduced," or who have plowed through the intensity of Sons and Lovers, Cold Comfort Farm is sweet, hilarious revenge." (

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