Patricia Gallimore and Miriam Margolyes star in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of the classic comic novel.

Strong of will and slender of ankle, 20-year-old orphan Flora Poste is blessed with every virtue save that of being able to earn her own living. Casting around for suitable relatives with whom she can make her home, Flora alights on the mysterious Starkadders and, ignoring the horrified shrieks of her friends, heads down to darkest Sussex.

There she is confronted by an exceptionally odd cast of characters: grief-stricken Judith, fervently religious Amos, the lusty, smouldering Seth, wild and mysterious Elfine and, of course, the invisible tyrant Great Aunt Ada Doom, who saw something nasty in the woodshed. Many would be overcome by the simmering passions of the Starkadder family, but not Flora. All they need is a little organising.

Stella Gibbons’ deliciously witty parody has been delighting readers since 1932 and retains its original sunny charm in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation.

A dramatisation of the comic novel by Stella Gibbons published in 1932 – 4 episodes of approx 55 minutes each in high quality MP3.

The story tells of Flora Poste, a smart, sophisticated young woman from London- rather like Stella herself- who goes to live with some strange relations in Sussex that she had never seen before, the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. The Starkadders are a mad, violent lot, very rustic in a sort of doom laden Hardyesque kind of way, and Flora sets out to tidy up their very untidy lives. The book tells how she eventually succeeds in doing so, against all the odds and with many comic incidents on the way.

Stella attributed much of the success of Cold Comfort Farm to ‘coming at exactly the right time.’ There is some truth in this. Most of the reviews suggest that the vogue for the rural novel had run its course and that the genre was ripe for mockery.

Punch wrote: “We have suffered too long from that school of novelists whose roots run so deep into the sad soil that their thoughts have grown consequently limited to the inevitability of gloom and reproduction; but at last we are revenged by Miss STELLA GIBBONS, who has arisen to mock with devilish skill at ‘a certain type of much read, earthy passionate novel~ the kind of story in which peasants have babies in cow sheds and push each other down wells ‘.

The Times Literary Supplement concluded: ‘It is quite time that the earthy and passionate novel was parodied.’