Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

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Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, COLD COMFORT FARM is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s. Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right.

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Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The education given to Flora Poste by her parents had been too expensive, too full of team sports, and too long. So when they died of a sudden illness within a few weeks of each other, during her twentieth year, Flora was discovered to possess every skill except that of earning enough to live on.

Her father had always been described as a wealthy man, but on his death, the lawyers were surprised to find him a poor one. After all the necessary taxes and bills had been paid, his child was left with an income of one hundred pounds a year, and no property.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Flora inherited, however, from her father a strong determination and from her mother an attractive ankle. The first had not been weakened by the fact that she always did what she wanted, nor the second by the violent outdoor sports which she had been forced to play, but she realized that neither was adequate as equipment for finding paid employment.

She decided, therefore, to stay with a friend, a Mrs Mary Smiling, at her house in Lambeth, a fashionable part of London, until she could make up her mind where she and her hundred pounds a year should go.

The death of her parents did not cause Flora much sadness, as she had hardly known them. They had been extremely fond of travelling, and spent only a month or so of each year in England. Flora, from the age of ten, had passed her school holidays at the house of Mary’s mother, and when Mary married, Flora spent them at her friend’s house instead. She felt, therefore, as if she was returning home when she entered Lambeth, on a dark afternoon in February, a fortnight after her father’s funeral.

Mrs Smiling had inherited three houses in Lambeth when her husband died, and now lived in the pleasantest of the three, number 1, Mouse Place, facing the River Thames. One of the others had been sold, and the third had been rented out as a gentlemen’s club.

‘How glad I am,’ she occasionally said to her close friends, ‘that poor Tod left me all his property! It does bring in such a lot of money.’ Like all people who have been disagreeably poor and have become deliciously rich, Mrs Smiling had never grown used to her money, and always took delight in thinking what a lot of it she had. And all her friends looked on with approval, as if she were a nice child with a toy…

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