I turned to Stella Gibbons’s classic book for some cold comfort on this election day, trying to distract my brain for a few hours by diving into the hilarious tale. It’s flat-out fantastic, an orphaned woman (Flora) who decides to take her annuity of 100 pounds a year and go live with relatives instead of having to pick up the detestable action of working for a living. She writes to several and chooses to live on Cold Comfort Farm since the other offers hinged on shared bedrooms or other nonsense.
Once there, Flora whips the farm into shape, ignoring the great aunt who hides away in the attic warning that no one should leave the farm. Flora gets uncle Amos to leave on a preaching mission, marries cousin Elfine off to the local gentry, pushes cousin Ulk out by getting Elfine married off, has aunt Judith agree to psychiatric treatment for a few months, and then her coup is having the old “insane” aunt fly off to Paris to enjoy herself. She avoids having a local author fall in love with her (he’s writing a biography that purports the brother Bronte wrote all the books and the sisters just stole his work), and eventually summons her beau, Charles, to come rescue her in his plane. Highly entertaining and funny.