Posts Tagged ‘classics’

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

I’ve never read this, but saw it on TV with a friend when I was in my teens. I don’t remember much about it other than “I saw something nasty in the woodshed” but I do remember enjoying it immensely, so picked it up at the library.

Flora Poste’s parents die when she is 19, leaving her only a modest income. After staying with a friend for a while she decides on a plan; she will write to all of her relatives and ask to live with them for a while. She chooses to stay with the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm, and sets about generally busybodying and fixing things.

I suspect I’ll be buying my own copy, and probably the DVD as well. The book is similar in some ways to Northanger Abbey but I enjoyed this much more. The characters were more engaging; still larger than life, and the book was still a parody, but I never actually wanted to slap any of them. Flora should be quite annoying but somehow she never is, and she definitely had more about her than Susan in Northanger Abbey. It was a very comforting (and fairly short) read, and very funny. Where else would you find cows called Pointless, Aimless, Graceless and Feckless? Definitely recommended.

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Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

This was one of my book club reads. My overall thoughts are that it was ok, but I didn’t love it.

The story follows Catherine, a girl in her late teens who’s basically growing up and finding her way in the world. She goes to stay in Bath with some family friends, and for the most part the book covers her time there, the friends she makes, the balls she goes to and the boys she likes. There’s also a brief stay at Northanger Abbey.

I found the structure a little bit odd. My version was around 220 pages and for roughly the first 200 not a lot happens really. There are a teen chick-lit things going on – the balls and plays they go to, details of her friendships and the usual romance angsty things. Things really kick off at around page 200 and twenty pages later it’s all sorted…

In fairness I’ve since discovered that the book is a parody on the kind of novel that was popular at the time, however it’s difficult to judge how successful it is without being familiar with that style. The book is reasonably engaging – I liked the main character and things worked out the way I wanted them to, albeit a bit abruptly. A lot of the supporting characters were very exaggerated but I did laugh at them – despite the age of the book I think most of us have come across people like the Thorpes. Despite that, and despite knowing that it was a parody, it just didn’t quite do it for me. However it was a reasonably enjoyable read.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I picked this up because I was going away with work and the book I was reading was not at all practical for packing, being quite a chunky hardback. This was to hand so it came with me.

I imagine everyone’s familiar with the story. Jane Eyre is an orphan living with her aunt and cousins, who basically abuse her, then gets packed off to a fairly unpleasant sounding school, then becomes a governess and finally marries the one for her via a short stint running a school, finding some cousins (one of whom is a bit of an arse), coming into some money and a madwoman in the attice. I’d read it at school but remembered very little about it, I don’t remember enjoying it much (though reading it in small chunks and having to take it in turns to read it aloud won’t have helped) but I wasn’t in a desperate hurry to read it again.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed it this time round. I really like Jane as a character, for all she’s a bit prickly, and I was a lot more sympathetic to Mr Rochester this time around. Really didn’t like St John Rivers though, he was a bit of an idiot. The whole finding-her-long-lost-family was a bit contrived but I loved it all the same.

Anyway I’ll be keeping hold of this one and will probably read it again.