It is the 30s. Flora’s parents have just (irrelevantly) died and she thinks it’d be amusing to cast herself on the mercy of some relatives. As one does. A round of letter-writing produces various unsatisfactory arrangements (like sharing a room with a parrot and some spirits from Beyond), and then also this one letter. You know I’m not given to plunking out long bits of books (except when they’re laughably awful), but I want to lure you in with this snippity bit, which I will now block-quote properlike.
So you are after your rights at last. Well, I have expected to hear from Robert Poste’s child these last twenty years.
Child, my man once did your father a great wrong. If you will come to us I will do my best to atone, but you must never ask me what for. My lips are sealed.
We are not like other folk, maybe, but there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort, and we will do our best to welcome Robert Poste’s child.
Child, child, if you come to this doomed house, what is to save you? Perhaps you will be able to help us when our hour comes.
Yr. affec. Aunt,
Enticingly mysterious and forebodey, right? I love a good doomed house. And Cold Comfort Farm has plenty of doom (including, but not limited to, one Aunt Ada Doom), but the doom is coated in whimsy. It’s The Fall of the House of Usher meets Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.
Because Flora trucks off to CCF, where said tyrannical Aunt Doom ensures that none of her many entertainingly wretched progeny leave the farm, or marry, or have nice things or jam for their tea or what have you. The progeny themselves are too busy pushing each other down wells and communing with nature in ill-fitting coats to notice much.
Flora takes them all in hand, however, and sets about reforming them, and the results would be slap-sticky if they weren’t so damned proper. It all winds up very pat, but the whole book is so ludicrously unreal that I would have been disappointed if it hadn’t.
Mileage will definitely vary with this one. You are either going to lol your way to the farm, or you will make like Queen Victoria (i.e. not be amused). Most of you will lean towards the lolling, I am thinking.
But it’s less than 250 pages, so even if you hates it you can’t get that mad.