December 22nd, 2011

book and cup

#124 Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons (1940

A glorious collection of stories from the author of Cold Comfort Farm. The title story tells of a typical Christmas at the farm before the coming of Flora Poste. It is a parody of the worst sort of family Christmas: Adam Lambsbreath dresses up as Father Christmas in two of Judith's red shawls. There are unsuitable presents, unpleasant insertions into the pudding and Aunt Ada Doom orders Amos to carve the turkey, adding: "Ay, would it were a vulture, 'twere more fitting!"

I have been looking forward so much to reading these stories, although I approached it nervously as I had read some fairly luke warm reviews. If anything I was disappointed in the title story - it was too short I wanted more, the only other Christmassy story was charming though. Overall I so enjoyed these old fashioned stories, and it has made me want to read more Stella Gibbons. I of course read Cold Comfort farm years and years ago, and it is now time for a re-read I think. I also have Westwood and Starlight on my ever expanding TBR. Theses new Vintage editions are very attractive looking books. Stella Gibbons' stories are obviously set in a world that no longer exists, they are about bored housewives, aging Bright Young Things, "modern" career women, spinsters in country villages and librarians. Often the endings are not much of a surprise, but they are generally just what the reader wants, and this makes them wholly satisfying. In his introduction to the new Vintage edition, Alexander McCall Smith writes about the short story as an art form. His description of the modern short story made me smile - and nod in agreement. These short stories come from a different time. They were written before it was fashionable to create a mood or to leave the reader artistically hanging. The modern short story are just the kind I usually hate. These lovely stories however, are just the kind I love.