Stella gibbons cold comfort farm
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella GibbonsUpdate Ive just watched the film. Its even better than the book, by a long way. Its very affectionate, and very much played for gentle laughs. The cast is fantastic, some of the best actresses around including Eileen Atkins and Joanna Ab Fab Lumley, Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan. The attention to detail was stunning. Everything had been thought of - the lighting, colours and even face makeup of the women changed to reflect the lessening of the stranglehold Aunt Ada Doom had on the Starkadders and the lightness that Robert Posts child, Flora, brought to the farm. The ending was also an improvement on the 5* book.
If you like British films, this is so typical of gentle British humour. In an earlier decade it would have been an Ealing film. I dont think it could have been made in the US as most of the actors werent remotely good looking. Even Elvine, playing a mini Eliza Doolittle role (an obvious pastiche) was rather average and the sex-obsessed and over-fertile girl had been made up to look like an unwashed farm girl. Only Kate Beckinsale (who is not the worlds most brilliant actress, although she was competent here, was allowed to be a beauty.
I do recommend the film. And the book. Rarely do I see a film much better than a really good book, but this is it. John Schlesinger and Stella Gibbons, author and director, geniuses both.
When Aunt Ada Doom was just a small child, she saw something nasty in the woodshed. And if it didnt blight her entire life, she certainly made sure it would blight, or at least add even more blight, to everyone else at Cold Comfort Farm, the family home and ancestral seat of the Starkadders.
Essentially this is the American tv series, the Hillbillies rewritten for 1930s Sussex and parodying Hardy, Lawrence, and various other Great British Writers, but is more related to the Hillbillies with incest, hellfire, strange obsessions (cows) and all manner of people who all have mental or emotional problems of the darker, more malign sort.
Into this maelstrom of petty evil, fear and ineptness, come the heroine. Flora Poste is the posh city cousin fallen on hard times whose father the Starkadders did something unmentionable to and feel guilty about so when she has nowhere to go, they take her in. But not willingly. She sorts them all out and brings them from their ignorant, Gothic-y insular life into the modern world.
It is a ridiculously funny novel, not as literary as the parodying might suggest. I havent seen the film of it, only just learned there was one, which was apparently brilliant and stars top British actors and actresses (as opposed to stars famous more for their beauty than any thespian ability). Sometimes I dont want to see the film of a favourite book in case the director hasnt seen it the same way as I have, but this time I want to.
Finished 26 Dec. 2011
Book review 19 May 2015
Film Review 24 May 2015
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When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. At the aptly-named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lustful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years. But Flora loves nothing better than to organise other people. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand. A hilarious and ruthless parody of rural melodramas and purple prose, Cold Comfort Farm is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time. Stella Dorothea Gibbons, novelist, poet and short-story writer, was born in London in
She told me a doctor had given it to her when she was a young nurse and she read it while on night duty and had a job not to laugh out loud and wake her sleeping patients. She explained that when it was published back in the Thirties there was something of a craze for worthy dark stories about brooding country folk, and Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm to gently send them all up. I laughed and laughed at how the young and very pushy Flora Poste decides, on the death of her parents, that she will contact all her relatives in the hope that one of them will offer her a home rather than be forced to find work. Ada Doom is also the author of the expression "She saw something nasty in the woodshed". Flora hot-foots it to Cold Comfort Farm, a ramshackle place crammed with a whole family of weird and wonderfully comic people who she decides to transform.
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It parodies the romanticised, sometimes doom-laden accounts of rural life popular at the time, by writers such as Mary Webb. Following the death of her parents, the book's heroine, Flora Poste, finds she is possessed "of every art and grace save that of earning her own living". She decides to take advantage of the fact that "no limits are set, either by society or one's own conscience, to the amount one may impose on one's relatives", and settles on visiting her distant relatives at the isolated Cold Comfort Farm in the fictional village of Howling in Sussex.