Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

““I think it’s degrading of you, Flora,’ cried Mrs Smiling at breakfast. ‘Do you truly mean that you don’t ever want to work at anything?’

Her friend replied after some thought: ‘Well, when I am fifty-three or so I would like to write a novel as good as “Persuasion”, but with a modern setting, of course. For the next thirty years or so I shall be collecting material for it. If anyone asks me what I work at, I shall say “Collecting material.” No one can object to that. Besides, I shall be.’

Mrs Smiling drank some coffee in silent disapproval.”

I can’t remember why, exactly, my girlfriend made me read this. Possibly because she’s from that part of the world, possibly because she made some sort of reference to it, and I did a blank silence. This seems likely (it happens a lot, she’s very clever and has read and seen things that I haven’t. In return, I educate her on… nonsense, mostly). Anyway. After a short but aggressive campaign (including an email titled “YOU WILL LIKE IT” containing only a link to the wikipedia article about it), I gave in and bought it.

She was right. I liked it. I like how overly melodramatic it is, and romantic, and how the protagonist reminded me of Patrick Dempsey’s character in Enchanted, frowning at things that everyone else seemed to be taking as perfectly normal and setting about making them neat and sensible and neat. I loved the names of the cattle, and their habit of losing body parts, and “moi liddle mop”. I liked the way it was set sometime in the future, but not specifically, with small details like the plane taxis and the slums of Mayfair dropped in casually. I liked how it pokes fun at so many other novels, but without relying on that to make it enjoyable. It was fun and serious all at once, and I enjoyed it hugely, would happily read it again. Hooray for people bullying me into reading things!

Other categories that Cold Comfort Farm fits into: a classic romance, a  book that became a movie, a book by a female author, a mystery or thriller, a book a friend recommended, a book with a love triangle, a book by an author you’ve never read before, a book based on or turned into a TV show

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