Stella Gibbons

Far too little is known about Stella Gibbons. She was English, she has a nephew who has been struggling to get her the recognition she so richly deserved, and she clearly understood just how ripe the works of D. H. Lawrence were for mockery. Cold Comfort Farm, her only novel still in print, is a work of genius, and holds the number 3 spot on my list of top ten favorite books. Imagine a hybrid of a Jane Austen heroine, a P. G. Wodehouse sensibility, and a D. H. Lawrence-by-way-of Garrison Keillor crowd of supporting characters.

Note: When Cold Comfort Farm was written in the early 1930s, Ms. Gibbons set it in the "near future". Usually this is a pretty minor subplot, but sharp-eyed readers might wonder why everyone flies everywhere and all the telephones have television dials.

Note #2: There was actually a Cold Comfort Farm short story, as well. It's no longer in print, but it apparently focused on a fun-filled Christmas at Cold Comfort, years before Flora showed up to make things tidy.

Note #3: Thanks to a friend of mine with excellent library access, I have now had the opportunity to read three other of Ms. Gibbons's books: The Bachelor, Gentle Powers, and Nightingale Wood. All were enjoyable--Nightingale Wood in particular--but none were as amazing as Cold Comfort Farm. (Alas.) Still, they're well worth your time, should you happen to encounter one.


Everywhere for Cold Comfort; dim, dusty libraries for everything else.

Other Recommendations:
Anything by P. G. Wodehouse

Anything by Jane Austen

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer

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Posted by: Julia


05 Nov, 2004 03:22 PM @ version 0

Cold Comfort Farm is a funny book. Every character's personality flaw seems to be magnified to the extreme, but fortunately, it makes for an amusing read that never seems to go over the top. I laughed when I read about Cousin Amos' "Quivering Brethren". I smiled over all of Cousin Judith's doom and gloom. I delighted in Flora turning the tables on Cousin Seth. And, of course, I wondered seriously just what was that something nasty in the woodshed that Aunt Ada Doom saw.

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