Cold Comfort Farm — Stella Gibbons

Quite outrageously, this is the first time I’ve read Cold Comfort Farm. I truly cannot believe I’ve made it into my thirties without it.

The iconic 1995 TV adaptation, with Kate Beckinsale, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen, gained cult status in my childhood. My mum first introduced us to it (one in a collection of treasured period dramas carefully taped off the telly), and she’d often put it on on rainy afternoons when we needed cheering up. In later years, my sister, friends and I would watch it before camping out in the tent in the garden. We’d chorus “There’s always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm” and collapse into fits of giggles until the early hours.

If you’ve had the great misfortune in your life to date of missing out on Cold Comfort in any medium, it’s about a young woman, Flora Poste, who goes to stay with distant relatives on their farm in Sussex. Unfazed by what turn out to be an eccentric and miserable bunch, she sets about turning things around. A comic delight, the joy of the book is not only that it is beautifully written, but that everything turns out as it should. I think it’s probably the definitive comfort read (and watch).

I came across this lovely copy in the Robin Hood’s Bay Bookshop, which is worth a trip if ever you’re visiting.

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