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Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain (original 1997; edition 2006)

by Charles Frazier

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Title:Cold Mountain
Authors:Charles Frazier
Info:Grove Press (2006), Edition: 1, Paperback, 464 pages
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Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)


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Some of the writing was lovely, some was just too too much. I like to have a bit left for my imagination to conjure, but Frazier conjures every leaf, every shaft of light.

Admittedly, he does it well. Beautifully, in fact. I think he memorized Joseph Campbell, though, as the hero's mythical journey is obvious. The problem is, some of the episodes he experiences seem to be plugged in for the sake of sticking with Campbell, rather than contributing to the story.

I won't tell you the ending. I will tell you, that after all those ponderous pages, it was a major let-down for me. ( )
  PetreaBurchard | Feb 9, 2014 |
I'm not sure, but I don't think that it is a spoiler to say that this is a retelling of the Odyssey set in the Civil war. Semi-based upon a true person. It was good in places, but I didn't buy enough into what was happening to really care. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
Cold Mountain hit the best-seller lists with an extraordinary splash. Frazier was a first-time novelist, an unknown, and the book was pushed by word-of-mouth and independent bookstores until it achieved a phenomenal reputation; an estimation that was well deserved.

Frazier follows the lives of two people separated by miles. Inman is a Confederate soldier, badly injured at Petersburg. He realizes one morning as he is recuperating in his hospital room that the gore he has witnessed on the battlefield has fundamentally changed him. He deserts and begins a long trek toward Cold Mountain, his home, where he hopes to find Ada, the other character in the story. Ada has embarked on her own journey. She has led an unusual life. Her father believed in educating his daughter and hiring the farm work. Why should one do anything one can pay to have done was his attitude. After the death of Monroe, her father, Ada is left helpless until Ruby joins her in bringing themselves to self-sufficiency.

Having only a huge pistol and a ragged copy of William Bartram's Travels, Inman battles numerous obstacles: the weather, the Home Guard, whose job it was to round up deserters, "outliers," often just killing them rather than having to force them to the front. He meets an assortment of individuals: a preacher who would rather kill a girl he has impregnated than face the community, slatternly sisters whose brother sells Inman to the Home Guard, a widow left with a baby and only a hog after marauding Federals steal everything else. Each delay on his westward journey provides a deep insight into the extraordinary impact of the Civil War both on the land and the people.

Inman becomes more dispirited. "He had long since decided there was little usefulness in speculating much on what a day will bring. It led a person to the equal errors of being either dreadful or hopeful." Death itself had become entirely too random. Frazier's descriptions of the battlefields through Inman's remembrance are truly horrifying.
Meanwhile, Ada, with Ruby's help, becomes "increasingly covetous of Ruby's learning in the ways living things inhabited this particular place" Their friendship deepens as Ada exchanges her book-knowledge for Ruby's practical skills. Two opposites become deep friends. Ada's story is also populated with a wealth of supporting characters. Ruby's father, for example, reveals the reclamation of a drunk through his love and tale nt for the fiddle. Monroe's relationship with the community is revealing of the character of the North Carolina community before and during the war.

Indeed, the entire physical and mental landscape is horribly bleak. It is a wonder that Inman and Ruby manage to recover hope. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
The writing is fine, and totally suited to the matter of the tale. Like Inman, the principal man character, I will be haunted by some of the images that bedevil him. Perhaps 'til I die. A book about brutality, and about how we cope with it. I won't even start on the women finely realised in it. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Aug 27, 2013 |
ok ( )
  Mamajeanne | Aug 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Frazier has been widely and justly praised for his elegant prose and rich evocations of the natural world. For me, however, the deepest satisfactions of his novel derive from his deft treatment of certain perennially appealing pop archetypes.
Cold Mountain is sincerely plausible. It is a solemn fake. You will not hear this from the readers and judges who have helped make Charles Frazier's Civil War tale probably the most popular novel about that period since Gone With the Wind. (Since its publication in June, Cold Mountain has sold more than a million copies; in November, it won the National Book Award.) The book is so professionally archaeological, so competently dug, that one can mistake its surfaces for depth. But it's like a cemetery with no bodies in it. All the records of life are there, the facts and figures and pocket histories, pointing up out of the ground, but what's buried there was never alive.
added by Shortride | editSlate, James Wood (Dec 24, 1997)
For a first novelist, in fact for any novelist, Charles Frazier has taken on a daunting task -- and has done extraordinarily well by it.
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It is difficult to believe in the dreadful but quiet war of organic beings, going on in the peaceful woods, & smiling fields.
   --Darwin, 1839 journal entry
Men ask the way to Cold Mountain.
Cold Mountain: there's no through trail.
---for Katherine and Annie
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At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the novel that the movie by the same name is based. Please do not combine the movie or abridged versions with this work.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802142842, Paperback)

The hero of Charles Frazier's beautifully written and deeply-imagined first novel is Inman, a disillusioned Confederate soldier who has failed to die as expected after being seriously wounded in battle during the last days of the Civil War. Rather than waiting to be redeployed to the front, the soul-sick Inman deserts, and embarks on a dangerous and lonely odyssey through the devastated South, heading home to North Carolina, and seeking only to be reunited with his beloved, Ada, who has herself been struggling to maintain the family farm she inherited. Cold Mountain is an unforgettable addition to the literature of one of the most important and transformational periods in American history.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:00 -0400)

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The impact of the Civil War on lovers. Inman is not the man he used to be, as wounded in battle he slowly makes his way home to North Carolina. His sweetheart, Ada, too has changed, no longer a flighty belle but a hard-working farm woman. Will love be the same?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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