Sunday, 11 January 2015

Conference at Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons


Gibbons published Cold Comfort Farm to tremendous acclaim in 1932, when she was thirty years old.  Her career lasted another fifty years but sadly her gift didn't.  Some of her later novels, like Westwood are perfectly acceptable, but others, including Conference at Cold Comfort Farm simply are not.  It has it's moments, mostly involving Adam Lambsbreath and his cows, but the futurism which made the original so startling, and the cutting satire, are wholly absent.  I qualify satire with cutting because there is satire here, but it is pointless.  I'm sure that even in 1949 everyone knew that the surge of postwar enthusiasm and experimentalism was inherently ridiculous.  Flora, now married to a vicar and the mother of several, has become conservative, even regressive.  In place of indignation, she regards events with bemused detachment which, even in a paltry 159 pages, becomes a tad tiresome.

Whilst I remain convinced that everyone should read Cold Comfort Farm, I am sorry to report that no one need bother with this trivial sequel.

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