July 29, 2013

Charming Little Book of Stories

Don't let the title fool you, "Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm" isn't just for holiday reading. Nor is it only for lovers of Stella Gibbons - only one of the stories actually features Starkadders of the "Cold Comfort Farm" fame.  It is a lovely little book, even it has never shot up to stardom.

Stella Gibbons Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm Modern Klatch

The book's cleverness is reason enough to pick it up...

"She felt that if she had to spend another year of interesting, congenial work during the days, and sensitive, cultured, intelligent talk in the evenings, she would go mad or die"

...and its stories are reason enough to hang on to your copy after you have finished. Though written some eight decades ago, the book does not feel like a time capsule. One protagonist struggles to balance work she loves with family happiness - sound familiar? Bohemians and sensible people are forever at odds with each other. Characters  face their choices, pressing ones and reflecting on the path they have already taken. And stories are about capacity for change, not dramatic important change, but a quiet change impacting only the intimate circle of those involved. 

This book is a rare gem. "Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm" is easy to read on a morning commute or poolside but it also has depth and subtlety. It is easy to care for its flawed characters. Without delivering dramatically happy endings most stories are satisfying in the end.   But the book also catches one by surprise as if the stories are a lens to one's own choices. 

Can you tell I enjoyed it? This one will be a tough act to follow.

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