Miss Flora Poste is orphaned by the death of her parents and must find a solution to her sudden situation. She writes to her plentiful relatives in hopes of finding a place to live. She chooses to take up her residence with the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex. Flora hopes to find diversion among her lowly relatives. She comes from London, after all. Convinced she’ll find disaster and ruin in their rural existence, she sets out on her adventure.
Flora “cannot tolerate a mess,” yet that’s exactly what she finds in Howling (yes, that’s a town). The farm is everything she imagined and much, much more. Aunt Judith speaks of a wrong done to Robert Poste that must be atoned for, but don’t ask her what it is. Her lips are sealed. Flora’s cousins have other things on their minds. Reuben wants the farm and suspects Flora has come to take his inheritance. Seth, when not impregnating the hired girl, longs to be a movie star. And Elfine dreams of poetry and Dick Hawke-Monitor, the young lord down the lane. Flora, or Robert Poste’s child as she is called, sees immediate need for intervention.
“There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm” is the mantra bellowed by Aunt Ada Doom, Flora’s great aunt. When only a child, the old lady “saw something nasty in the woodshed” that has forced her to take to her room and never venture past the farm gates. Her manipulations and antics keep all the members of the Starkadders afraid to leave Aunt Ada or the farm. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you there is a curse on Cold Comfort Farm.
Flora systematically works her magic on the members of her extended family. She transforms Elfine from a will-o’the wisp into a proper modern lady fit for marriage (not to a first cousin). Amos, Judith’s husband, takes Flora’s advice and leaves to preach across the United States in a Ford. This leaves Reuben with the farm. Seth is discovered by a famous movie producer and is whisked away to Hollywood. After Flora shares her magazines and travelogues, Aunt Ada emerges from her room to announce she will travel the world starting with the French Riviera. The doom has been lifted from Cold Comfort Farm . All the Starkadders live happily ever after. And Flora Poste flies off to marry the man of her dreams, Charles. After all, he does have heavenly teeth!
This novel is a hoot! Cold Comfort Farm is a sharp parody of romantic fiction popular at the time. Stella Gibbons creates cringe-worthy yet endearing characters not soon forgotten. You’ll in for a good time with this one, just mind the sukebind’s not in blossom!