I’ve discovered an even bigger threat to my available reading time than having to study: I’m no longer reliant on public transport, which has significantly reduced my free opportunities, meaning it took a lot longer to finish Cold Comfort Farm than it should have – especially for such a funny and engaging book. I think Cold Comfort Farm may be part of some school syllabuses – and in some ways it would have been good to get to read it years ago because I do feel like I missed out (and only really picked it out by chance when I was scouring the library a few weeks ago) but equally I’ve never enjoyed trying to pick themes and symbolism out of books and a quick read of the introduction when I’d finished (mostly to see if it would tell me exactly what had happened in the woodshed) made me realise that its rife here and I wouldn’t want to have had it spoilt for me by having to read into things.
Without wanting to insult it by simply comparing it to other books, Cold Comfort Farm begins (I thought) almost like an Evelyn Waugh novel, with the well educated and witty Flora Poste suddenly finding herself orphaned and deciding to leave her future living arrrangements up to the mercy of a variety of distant relatives. Somehow she determines those most worthy of her company are the Starkadders of the eponymous cold comfort farm, and after a quick exchange of almost incomprehensible correspondance she sets off for deepest darkest Surrey, despite the speculation of her weathly friend that it will not end well. Cold Comfort turns out to be everything Flora had expected and worse, even down to the names of her cousins Ruben and Seth, and yet somehow (mostly I suppose because she refuses to even consider that things won’t go her way) she begins a complete overhaul of life at the farm, dealing with all of her unruly relatives (amongst other obstacles) on the way – which I suppose makes her more determined and strong minded than your average Waugh character. What results is both an amusing and interesting read – although I can see that if you had to study it you might disagree – but for me it was great and I’d definitely recommend it.