Sunday, 27 June 2010

Too hot to read? Cold Comfort for you....

It's as much as I can do to waft through the Sunday papers on the sun roof, after having made what is likely to win 'The Prettiest Salad of The Summer (so far)' complete with pea shoots and white pea blossoms to even dream of reading anything that requires concentration. No, an old favourite is called for.  One that I have re-read so many times, that I am on my third replacement paperback.
It's a hot day, so let's all take the charabanc to Howling, in Sussex (where else?) to Cold Comfort Farm where I can promise you delights that will soothe even the most fevered of brows. Our guide there is Flora Poste.  A wonderfully tart heroine.  She weaves through the book always appropriately dressed and waves her calm hand over the problems of the Starkadders. Flora has been orphaned, you see, so she writes charming begging letters to all her known relatives, pleading for board and lodgings. After dismissing a few replies, she turns up in Sussex to a veritable feast of eccentrics.  Presiding over them all, but seldom seen is crazed Great Aunt Ada Doom (I've seen something nasty in the woodshed!) Judith (who heaves and sighs in a shawl whilst adoring her good looking and lusty son Seth) Big Business -  the bull, Rueben who tallies the books in a somewhat unconventional manner, hellfire preaching Amos, and wild spirit Elfine who adores walking on the downs communing with nature. (Flora thought, 'What a dreadful way of doing one's hair; surely it must be a mistake.') And I cannot leave out Mrs Beetle the 'woman that does' ( 'T'was a black day for me when I took up with Agony Beetle and moved to Sussex....') There is a magical make-over scene, pages and pages of comic genius, and you can almost smell the sukebind as it flowers in the giant urns on the overmantle.
Stella Gibbons wrote this rural parody of a melodrama in 1932. If you haven't read it - please do.  It's funny and smart and Flora is an absolute delight.
A keeper - I might even invest in a hardback....

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