Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm, By Stella Gibbons

Have yourself...a very Thirties Christmas

Stella Gibbons's short stories come, like Cold Comfort Farm, the novel that made her name, from another world, yet it's one we dimly recognise.

She is strictly a 1930s author, her world full of making-do, where single, middle-aged women abound, left bereft of potential husbands by the First World War. Many stories reflect that aftermath – Rhoda Harting in "The Little Christmas Tree" is one of those women who have "missed out"; spinster Elaine Garfield in "Sisters" is viewed as a "bit barmy" by her fellow villagers. But married women are just as unhappy, and desperate to leave their boring husbands. It's an oddly comforting and amusing collection, for all that dissatisfaction, and possibly a truer depiction of the times than we might think.