1930's London. Flora Poste's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Poste, to who Flora has never been close, have just passed away. Despite being in the leisure class, Flora only has a meager allowance on which to live. Rather than get a job, she decides to live off the generosity of one of her relatives. Seeing herself as her generation's future Jane Austen, Flora wants to choose relatives that are not necessarily wealthy, but are interesting from a literary perspective - whose lives she can "tidy up" - and as such she declines the offer of her wealthy second cousin Charles Fairford, who is attracted to her. She wants to gain experience over the next thirty years before she writes her great novel. Of the invitations she receives, all which sound appalling, she decides to accept the offer of her first cousin once removed Judith Starkadder to live at Cold Comfort Farm. The interesting aspects of Judith's invitation are that she wants to atone for a wrong committed on Robert Poste, but she will not divulge what that wrong was, and that she and her family will not leave the doomed farm since a Starkadder has always lived on Cold Comfort Farm. One more thing she learns once she arrives is that her Great Aunt Ada Doom is supposedly mad because she saw something nasty in the woodshed as a child, she who now lives as a recluse upstairs in the farm. By all these facts, "Robert Poste's Child" as Flora is called by the Starkadders sees that life there will be more appalling and more interesting than she could have imagined. While she tries to find out the secrets behind the Starkadders and the farm, she also tries to change life on the farm to her sensibility, what she calls bringing them to a higher common sense.