Four of us met on a stormy night to discuss Stella Gibbons’ ‘Cold Comfort Farm.’

While I chuckled my way through this delightful novel, I was aware that my book club members may not feel the same way. So, when one of the members returned the book after only one week, I thought ‘this could go either way.’

Sure enough, the ladies who braved the ghastly weather arrived only to tell me that the novel was difficult and a complete bore. One of our members had read it a few years back, and was surprised to hear this opinion, so she and I discussed what we most loved about the novel, and we discovered that conversation was the key to unlocking the novel’s dreary English humour.

Cold Comfort Farm is quite simply a parody. Anyone who has read novels such as Daphne DuMaurier’s ‘Rebecca’, Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or Thomas Hardy’s ‘Tess of the d’Urberville’s’ will instantly recognise Gibbons’ tongue-in-cheek poke at these famous novels.

Between cows legs randomly falling off, sinister cousins named Seth and Reuben and the wedding of the century being frequently interrupted by planes landing, Cold Comfort Farm will leave you shaking your head and wondering what on earth you have gotten yourself into.

All in all, I gave the book 5/5 stars. The other members were not quite as keen, so the book probably evened out to 2.5/5 stars.

On September 30, we will be discussing an Australian book – Judy Nunn’s ‘Maralinga’. I have never read any of Nunn’s work, and remember her only from her role in Home and Away. We look forward to reading her novel.

During the darkest days of the Cold War, in the remote wilderness of a South Australian desert, the future of an infant nation is being decided . . . without its people’s knowledge.

A British airbase in the middle of nowhere; an atomic weapons testing ground; an army of raw youth led by powerful, ambitious men – a cocktail for disaster. Such is Maralinga in the spring of 1956.

Maralinga is a story of British Lieutenant Daniel Gardiner, who accepts a twelve-month posting to the wilds of South Australia on a promise of rapid promotion; Harold Dartleigh, Deputy Director of MI-6 and his undercover operative Gideon Melbray; Australian Army Colonel Nick Stratton and the enigmatic Petraeus Mitchell, bushman and anthropologist. They all find themselves in a violent and unforgiving landscape, infected with the unique madness and excitement that only nuclear testing creates.

maralingaMaralinga is also a story of love; a love so strong that it draws the adventurous young English journalist Elizabeth Hoffmann halfway around the world in search of the truth. It is a story of heartbreak brought to the innocent First Australians w
ho had walked their land unhindered for 40,000 years.

Maralinga . . . a desolate place where history demands an emerging nation choose between hell and reason