What I expected of Cold Comfort Farm was lots of flowery descriptions of the countryside and over-egged pensive moments. Actually, it’s very witty and the characters are the weirdest people I have encountered in a long time.
Gibbons explores the reasons behind the choices the characters make with striking honesty. The protagonist, Flora, moves in with relatives because work just doesn’t appeal. Mrs Beetle doesn’t mind that her daughter pops out children of dubious origin because she plans to start a jazz band. Things harmonise over the course of the novel as Flora takes everyone in hand.
The observations are extremely captivating. They draw you in and entertain you. I would warn that you need to be able to appreciate the weird but comical. If people-watching with a good dose of madness appeals then you’re set. The details certainly contribute to the cohesion of the book, anchoring the messy environment.
I would call it a glamorous book. Flora epitomises style and poise, studiously creating order out of chaos. Yet it is graciously self-mocking. You can’t help but warm towards her strange brand of generosity.