Skip to main content

Cannonball Read #27: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

I ran across the movie version of this a few years ago, and I absolutely LOVED it. Kate Beckinsale was adorable in it (apparently it was made before she turned into a plastic skeleton) and some hilarious and wonderful character performances were turned in by Sir Ian McKellan, Joanna Lumley, Rufus Sewell, and Stephen Fry. I finally managed to get my hands on the book a few weeks ago, and I hoped it would be equally entertaining.

The plot concerns modern young woman Flora Poste, who, after being orphaned, leaves 1920s/30s London to go live with her distant relatives the Starkadders on their rural farm. The Starkadders turn out to be a dreadfully weird and dysfunctional bunch, and Flora sets her sights on using her common sense and modern sensibilities to "straighten up" the lot of them. There's gloomy Aunt Judith (who is obsessed with her son Seth); Uncle Amos the fire-and-brimstone rural preacher; cousin Reuben, the farmer; cousin Seth, the local Lothario; Elfine, the wild waif who is in love with a boy from a high-born family...plus numerous cousins and hired men and other troublesome rural inhabitants. At the center of it all is Flora's biggest challenge--mad Aunt Ada Doom, who once saw something nasty in the woodshed...or maybe the bicycle shed. Or the potting shed... Flora arrives to take charge of the farm, and her story is the hysterical tale of her attempts to deal with the Starkadders.

In some ways the book was just as wonderful, and in others it was a tad disappointing. The story was still populated by the same wacky, bizarre characters, but on the whole the tale was a bit darker than the film. Obviously, there were some characters and subplots cut from the book, but I didn't think they were much missed in the film. The characters and their dialogue were fabulous and funny, though the Flora of the book is a bit more of a haughty bitch than the Flora of the film, who is still haughty but generally with good intentions. Also, the language in the book can sometimes get a bit flowery, but those passages tend to be relatively short, and are mostly descriptions from Flora's "literary" point of view.

On the whole, I enjoyed both the film and the book and would recommend either to someone who enjoys period comedies.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #2 - Southern Gods

I've had Southern Gods on my TBR list for so long I no longer remember why I put it there. Was it a recommendation from Amazon? From Goodreads? Did someone I know recommend it? Did it cross my path as a "If you liked __________ then you'll like this too!"

Maybe I heard it through the grapevine?

I only know that recently, I happened to come across it on my wishlist and decided to go ahead and splurge on it.

I'm glad I did.

In 1951 Memphis, war veteran and leg-breaker-for-hire Bull Ingraham gets a new assignment: a record company has lost one of their employees somewhere. Early Freeman set off to deliver new records to radio stations, and has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. His boss at Helios Records is anxious to find him...and also anxious to find a mysterious blues musician whose music can do terrible things to the living -- and to the dead.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Sarah Rheinhart leaves her abusive husband and returns to her family home, where …

CBR9 #3: Missing Wives, Missing Lives by JJ Slate

There's a lot of discussion these days about things that are dangerous to women--is it heart disease? Is it stress? Car accidents? Drugs? Serial killers? Trans women in bathrooms?--but it seems like one of the biggest hazards to women are the men in their lives.

This book details the cases of thirty women who vanished. Stretching back to 1976, and with cases as recent as 2007, the women featured in this book seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, never to be seen again. For some, the legal system was able to prove a case against the men in their lives, but for others, the search for justice may never be resolved.

The amazing thing to me was the stories that the husbands gave upon their wives' disappearances. "So, you had a fight, and she just left the house--at 3am. In her pajamas. Barefoot. Without her purse, or her glasses, or her car, or her TEETH? Leaving her small dependent children behind. And you decided to say nothing for three weeks? And while she was gon…