My big read: Cold Comfort Farm

15th August 2003 at 01:00

For some reason, Cold Comfort Farm , published in 1932, was set "in the near future". The few establishing shots of that near future look quaint now, apart from the videophones; the rest of the book is timeless. The phrase: "something nasty in the woodshed" has entered the language; we all know what happens to susceptible rustics when the sukebind hangs heavy on the wains.

When Flora Poste descends on her Sussex cousins in their mouldering farmhouse, she finds the Starkadders surrounded by rotting livestock, riven and bound together by ancient grievances and loathing, seething with sexuality, with religious mania and random Freudian disorders.

Flora (ruthless, exquisite, philistine) pits herself against Aunt Ada Doom, malevolent genius of Cold Comfort.

Read the full review in this week's TES

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