Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
I saw this book on a list of popular books that made the rounds recently. (Sorry for not linking, but it was a few weeks ago, and I saw it on several blogs.) Although I didn't post about it, I did make a mental tally, and discovered that I had read 50 of the 100 books on the list. Now it is 51. I had never heard of this book before. (I should have, as it is part of the Ambleside Online curriculum that my children use, but I suppose I wasn't paying good attention to that bit. But I digress.) For some reason, however, the title caught my eye (maybe I really did have a subliminal memory of its being in the curriculum), and when I ran across it at the library I picked it up.
I have been accused of having no sense of humor, but it is not true. I do. And this book appeals directly to it. I found myself laughing out loud and snickering at the blunt, matter-of-fact tone of Flora. Actually, I think there is just something peculiar to British fiction from this 1930's era--a certain casual, sophisticated tone. It's hard to explain, but I know what I mean.
At any rate, orphaned at the tender age of nineteen, and left with slender means to support herself, Flora writes to all her relations to request a home for a little while. She chooses the dubious invitation from Cold Comfort farm rather than submit to sharing a bedroom with a cousin or a parrot, or living with a bed-ridden uncle in a remote, lonely house. Child, child, if you come to this doomed house, what is to save you? Perhaps you may be able to help us when our hour comes.
From the moment of her arrival at Cold Comfort farm, which is chock-full of eccentrics, Flora sets out to do just that--help them. She schemes and manages and arranges (her favorite word) so that everyone gets exactly what they want. When the day comes that she decides to leave the farm (for a very good reason), it is hardly recognizable as the decrepit, miserable place to which she arrived. Flora figures out what everyone wants, and then she finds a way to get to it for them, from itinerant preaching to a film contract to a wedding.
This was light, fun reading, worth a look if you have a quirky sense of humor that would appreciate cows named Aimless, Feckless, Graceless, and Pointless.