So intones Judith Starkadder, at the beginning of Stella Gibbon’s comic masterpiece Cold Comfort Farm. To Judith Starkadder this statement is a curse and a warning but it’s more of an opening salvo in the war of English novel types. On one side are the moor, mud and fen school of Novels where the clouds are always lowering, the males are always glowering and life is eternally soiled. Opposing this school of brooding romantics is the pragmatic, organized and cheerful Flora Poste, a Jane Austen heroine in 1920’s regalia. Can an intelligent girl with a will of her own “tidy up” the morbid and moribund Starkadders? Can she overcome their devotion to sukebind and jumping into the well? And can she break Aunt Ada Doom’s preoccupation about seeing “Something narsty in the woodshed”?
If you haven’t read, this try it and look for the reasonably faithful film adaptation made in 1995. And remember, avoid the combination of sukebind and summer evenings if you live in a place called Howling. You’ll be tempting Nature to make things untidy!