Flora Poste’s parents die when she is nineteen, leaving her an income of one hundred pounds a year. They provided her with an expensive education that did not prepare her to earn her living. She visits a friend near London to decide what to do and develops a warm relationship with her cousin, Charles Fairford. She writes to various relatives to ask if she might stay with them and chooses the Starkadders, an aunt and cousins who live at Cold Comfort Farm in Howling, Sussex. Charles promises to rescue Flora in his plane whenever living on the farm becomes too much for her.
Adam Lambsbreath, the ninety-year-old farmhand, meets Flora at the station. He tells Flora that a curse on Cold Comfort Farm prevents it from flourishing and any of the family from leaving. Flora suspects, however, that Mrs. Ada Doom Starkadder, her deceased mother’s sister, is the real curse. Aunt Ada Doom stays in her room and rules the family with a will of iron. She has not left the farm in twenty years. Appalled by the condition of the farm and by the many violent and brooding Starkadders, Flora determines to tidy up life at Cold Comfort Farm.
Flora glimpses her seventeen-year-old cousin, Elfine, who never attended school and spends most of her time wandering about the moors writing poetry. Flora hears Meriam, the hired girl, groaning while delivering her fourth illegitimate child by Seth. Conferring with Cousin Judith, Flora learns that Judith’s husband, Amos, did a great, secret wrong to Flora’s deceased father. Coarse and filled with lust for the land, Reuben is the only true farmer among the Starkadders. He suspects that Flora wants to take over the farm, but when she assures him that the farm is the last thing she wants, she wins him over. Seth makes suggestive advances to her, but Flora discovers that his great love in life is not women, as she has assumed, but “the talkies.” Though exhausted by her interaction with these family members, Flora decides she must become acquainted with the other Starkadders.
Flora drops hints, but she is not invited to meet Aunt Ada Doom. Flora decides to work on Cousin Amos, a huge, rude, religious fanatic. She accompanies him to his sermon at the Church...
(The entire section is 903 words.)