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04 December 2006

Stella Gibbons's novel Cold Comfort Farm is a masterpiece

That's the opening line of this article in the Guardian.

And it is so very, very true.

Cold Comfort Farm is one of my very most favouritest books. I have no idea why it isn't on my books interests thing for this blog. I must rectify that.

If you have seen the film, but not read the book: forget about the film. The film is a light, insubstantial piece of cinematic fluff. The book is a hilarious, biting satire that really, really is a masterpiece.

I was first introduced to CCF via a radio play which my Mum bought me on cassette. It was very funny, so I bought the book.

The thing that neither radio play nor film mention, is that CCF is set in the future. Except it was written in 1932, but set maybe in the 40s. Stella predicted video-phones (but only in public phone boxes, and mostly people still send telegrams), air-taxis (but most people still travel by horse-and-buggy or car), and World War Two (but only in a brief mention). It's quite confusing, because everything else about the novel is very vintagely 30s. It's also fascinating and hilarous.

So go read it. Please. And if possible, read it out loud to a friend. With funny voices.

(some favourite moments)

'It is quite unneccesary for a young woman to resemble St Francis of Assisi. And in your case it would be downright suicidal.'

Aunt Ada Doom: I saw something nasty in the woodshed!
Mr Neck: Did it see you?

Flora: I think if I find that I have any cousins called Seth or Rueben, I shall decide not to go.
Mary: Why?
Flora: Because highly sexed young men living on farms are nearly always called Seth or Rueben. And it would be such a nuisance!


Amanda said...

Oh! I knew there was something on my list to read! Thanks for reminding me - I've been meaning to read it for ages.

And so you recommend The Book Thief too?

lili said...

Definitely. I confess I'm not a big fan of The Holocaust Novel - not because I don't think it was an absolute tragedy and should be remembered by us all so it never ever happens again, but because I've read so many of them, that I'm sort of ready to read about something else.

But The Book Thief is an exception. As is John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (which may win the award for being the most hotly debated book of the last two years).

Pat said...

Your book recommendations aren't really making my wallet happy (although, I'm holding off on buying this book for the moment).

Emmaco said...

Cold Comfort Farm is one of my favourite books too. When I first read it I was under the vague impression it was a serious novel until I read the intro saying how pieces of especial literary merit were rated using a star system! I always forget the whole futuristic thing as it doesn't really seem necessary. Have you read any of her other books?

lili said...

emma, i haven't read anything else by stella, but a quick check of the catalogue at work reveals that we have a couple of other works... i smell summer reading!

Emmaco said...

There's another of Stella's books at my library too so I'll go try it. But I doubt anything will compare to the light and clever touch she displays in CCF!