I had read/heard lots about Cold Comfort Farm (not really sure where now) so when I saw one of the new Popular Penguin editions of the book a while ago I snapped it up. I wasn't really sure what to expect from the book - although I knew it was an English novel written in the 193o's and that was enough for me to give it a go. My edition of the book also has an introduction written by Lynne Truss - which I saved to read until after I had read the actual book (and which I did find helpful at that point).
Cold Comfort Farm starts with an introduction to our leading lady;
The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living.
And so begins Flora's predicament - either stay in her beloved, social London, find a flat of her own and a job to support herself - or move to some far flung part of the countryside to live with distant relatives previously unknown to her. Much to my surprise (but thankfully for the plot of the novel) Flora moves to Cold Comfort farm in Sussex to live with relatives of her mothers - the Starkadders.
It is here that the novel takes its comic turn because the Starkadders are both ridiculous and hilarious at the same time and the interaction they have with city girl Flora has some very funny results and altercations. It did take me a while to pick up the intended tone of the novel, Flora swoops in determined to alter for the better her country cousins and while I did find her actions funny I also felt a little resentful of her nature - what right did she have to decide she was in the right and the Starkadders were the lost and hopeless ones?? I got to grips with the book in the end though and did end up enjoying it for the most part - Gibbons does tend to describe a lot of the landscape in her book and while I know this is necessary to set the scene, a little too much of it and I become a bit bored! Some very funny scenes though - this might be one I have to come back to in the future to fully appreciate.