Date finished: 27th December 2011
I didn’t realise until I was about to buy it, that Christmas At Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons was actually a collection of short stories. I’ve become a fan of short story collections in recent years, so it was a delight to find a collection by Gibbons, as I loved Cold Comfort Farm when I read it a few years ago, and have been wanted to read more of her work, so to match up the author and the short story was a festive bonus.
Although the first story and the title story are both based around the Christmas holiday, the rest of the collection aren’t, however they all have a theme of love, whether it’s finding a new love, rekindling an old love, unexpected love or unrequited love, and all set in the homes and lives of the middle classes in the period between the wars.
Each story seems to have a recurring theme of a person (usually a woman) who appears to be a stereotype of a “certain type”, with their assigned role in society, but each one of them shows a strength of character to show the depth of themselves as an individual. Considering the period in which the stories are written, it was a delight to read of women who were strong and independent, and who had careers as well as wives and mothers, and interesting to look at how even in the 1930s, there was an ongoing dialogue about whether women could have both careers and families, and the balance within their lives.
Gibbons style of writing is very easy to read, with the flavour of writing of that period (the book was originally published in 1940), and has warmth and wit running through it, and I absolutely loved it. I will definitely be coming back to read more of her work.