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Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Cold Mountain (original 1997; edition 2006)

by Charles Frazier

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10,277167280 (3.84)392
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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booorrr-ring ( )
  jodiesohl | Jun 25, 2016 |
This book is a masterpiece. It's powerful characterization and descriptions just stick with you. Don't worry about what you think should happen, just enjoy the road. Read it more than once to fully enjoy it.

6/14/11 -- Listening to this, I can hear early American authors come alive in the words, as well as the ties to Homer. I think this book should be required reading. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
So sad. ( )
  jnmwheels | Apr 3, 2016 |
Inman is a Confederate soldier and he is not very happy about it. After a hospital stay for a wound, he decides to leave the military life and return home. Maybe he will reunite with Ada; he hopes so. He is, however, aware that his decision will be opposed by a few groups. The establishment military will try to capture him. Inman feared more the bands of common criminals operating under flags of pseudo-patriotism, like the Home Guard, that would like to capture him. Some would turn him over to the Confederate Army; some would turn him over to the federal Army. Some would kill him for fun.

Inman sets off on a long foot journey; a horse would both require care and attract attention. The journey could take months. Each chapter is a story of a character that Inman meets along the way. Some characters reappear in later chapters, but each chapter could have been written as a short story.

One entertaining part of the reading experience with this book was that I had to use a dictionary, frequently. This well researched book uses vocabulary of the time to describe things that are no longer in common use. I did not know what “mast” was (p 83). The phrase “where the horse was taken from between the thills and put in a stall” (p.201) stopped me. What are thills? Even the Kindle supplied dictionary was sometimes not helpful; either there was no definition or the definition given made no sense in context. Further research gave me the answer and I liked the challenge.

There is an interesting style of writing with complex sentences that provoke several thoughts from just one sentence.
“The man had a big round head which sat unbalanced on him like God was being witty about making the insides of it so small. Though he was nearly thirty according to Stobrod, people still called him a boy because his thoughts would not wrap around the least puzzle. To him, the world had no order of succession, no causation, no precedent. Everything he saw was new-minted, and thus every day was a parade of wonders” (p. 262).

Inman’s need to walk and hide at the same time takes him through forests, along ridges, over and through streams and rivers. He walks through seasons and observes changes. For the nature loving reader, this book is a delight with is detailed, informed description of terrain. Not only is central character Inman alone, the object of his journey and desire, Ada, is also initially alone. She remains in one place, becoming a self-taught gardener by necessity caused by war, until joined by Ruby. Ruby’s existence prior to meeting Ada was a lonely one. Here we also find great passages describing living in the woods, alone, from about the age of three. Although she and Ada live together, Ruby has no words to spare for Ada unless they have profit and meaning. The lone, self-reliant existence is reinforced. Characters living alone give rise to internal dialogue and philosophical interpretation. Ada did this from an educated background; Inman was more self-taught. Ruby was common sense survival driven. Resultant commonalities and differences were shown, not explained. Great writing.

There is much more to write about how great this book is, but other reviewers have done a great job. I just wanted to add my observations. Are there any negatives? Only if the reader does not like very detailed descriptions of nature; even then the writing is great, it just doesn’t move forward as fast. I believe this to be a must read book for anyone who loves and works with literature. ( )
  ajarn7086 | Mar 5, 2016 |
The novel opens in a Confederate military hospital near Raleigh, North Carolina, where the male protagonist, Inman, is recovering from a recent battle wound. Tired of fighting for a cause he never believed in and longing for his home at Cold Mountain, North Carolina, pushed by advice from a blind man, and moved by the death of the man in the bed next to him, he steals out of the hospital after nightfall and sets out west on a walking journey of approximately 250 miles.

The narrative alternates back and forth every chapter between the story of Inman and that of Ada Monroe, a minister's daughter recently relocated from Charleston to a farm in the rural mountain community called Cold Mountain from which Inman hails. Though they only knew each other for a brief time before Inman departed for the war, it is largely the hope of seeing Ada again that drives Inman to desert the army and make the dangerous journey back to Cold Mountain. (Details of their brief history together are told at intervals in flashback over the course of the novel.)

At Cold Mountain, Ada's father soon dies, and the farm that the genteel city-bred Ada lives on, named Black Cove, is soon reduced to a state of disrepair. A young woman named Ruby, homeless but a stronger worker than Ada and resourceful, soon moves in. She is capable of hard work and not only helps Ada clean the place up and return it to productivity, but teaches her what she must know to survive in this very different environment.

Inman is on his way, but must beware of the Home Guard, who search for and capture Confederate deserters. He meets a preacher called Veasey, whom he catches in the act of attempting to murder his impregnated lover. After Inman dissuades him, they travel together. They butcher a dead cow that had fallen into a creek and the cow's owner, Junior, gives them away to the Home Guard. They are put into a group of other captured prisoners, and march for days before the Home Guard decides to simply shoot them because they are "too much trouble". Veasey steps forward to try to stop them and is killed. Inman survives when he takes a graze from a bullet that has already gone through Veasey and they think he is dead. They dig a shoddy mass grave and Inman pulls himself out, helped in part by some passing wild pigs. He cannot bury Veasey, but turns him face down, and continues on.

Inman's journey is rough. He faces hunger, and an attempted armed robbery at a rural tavern, though carrying a LeMat revolver, which he uses when necessary. Occasionally he is helped and sheltered by civilians who want nothing to do with the war. Through cunning ingenuity he helps one of them track and recover a hog, her only possession and source of food for the winter, which had just been seized from her by Union soldiers. He is also helped by a woman who owns goats, who gives him advice and medicines to finally heal his wounds.

At Ada's farm, Ruby's father, Stobrod, is caught stealing corn. He was a deadbeat who abused and neglected Ruby when she was very young; he is also a Confederate deserter. Ruby grudgingly feeds him. He returns another day with a friend named Pangle, and they play a fiddle and banjo. Stobrod and Pangle soon leave and, instead of stealing, take food from a hiding place where Ruby leaves it for them. They are caught and shot by the Home Guard. A third companion hides when the Guard finds the other two. He runs back and alerts Ada and Ruby, who ride out to see the two men. Stobrod just barely survives; Ada and Ruby pitch camp to give him a place to recover.

Inman arrives at Black Cove to find it empty, and sets out to find Ada on the mountain. He unexpectedly encounters her, greatly altered; she's dressed in britches, and is out hunting wild turkeys. Both have changed so greatly in their appearance and demeanor since they parted that it is some moments before they recognize one another. Inman takes up camp with Ada and Ruby. Ruby is afraid Ada will dismiss her now she has a husband, and Ada reassures her that she needs her as a friend and for her ideas and help. Ruby gives the pair her blessing, and they make love. They happily begin to imagine the life they will have together at Black Cove and make plans for their future.

As the party begins the trek back to the farm, however, they encounter the Home Guard. A shootout commences in which Inman kills or chases off all the members of the Guard except for a seventeen year old boy who flees into the thicket and is cornered against a rock ledge. Inman, reluctant to shoot him down in cold blood, tries to convince him to lay down his arms and leave. But as he approaches, the boy shoots and kills him.

Ada is left a pregnant widow. She raises her daughter at Black Cove, where she lives with Stobrod and Ruby, who eventually also marries and has children.
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 167 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:01 -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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