Cold Mountain Online by Charles Frazier
Click Here to Download the Book The protagonist of Charles Frazier's initial novel is Inman, a disenchanted Confederate soldier who did not die as presumed after being gravely injured in a conflict In the course of the final days of the Civil War. Instead of hanging around to be sent back to the front lines, the soul-sick Inman runs off, and commences on a perilous and solitary journey through the traumatized South, making his way home to North Carolina and endeavoring solely to be rejoined with his dearest, Ada, who herself has been striving to keep up the family homestead she inherited. Cold Mountain is a intensely-imagined addition to the printed works of one of the most transformational eras in the history of America.
Reviews I'm thinking do we really NEED another review? But because this is my absolute favorite book that has been written in the last 70-odd years, I, for some reason, feel compelled to write one. I read at least a book a month and I truly believe this is a classic. It will be read 100 years from now. I'm not a civil war buff, although I do love to read classics frequently and historical fiction occasionally. But I learned some things that, as a displaced Southern Belle, I suspected. For one, the war was not just about slavery, especially for the Appalachian-dwellers. I'm also not a particularly emotional person, but this book actually made me cry--more than once--and laugh out loud. That, I believe, is its measure. Any book that takes me through the entire spectrum of emotions, makes me love its protagonists so dearly I want to meet them and even journey with them, and ultimately makes me a better, wiser, more appreciative and reflective person, is a true classic. This book is so recent, but it meets those stringent qualifications more solidly than many a well-worn dusty classic in its umpteenth printing. All of my other top-ten favorite works of fiction were written before 1950. Charles Frazier is a master. Two things I want to point out: 1) This book is not ALL tragic. There is a lot of it that is ridiculously, laugh-out-loud funny, which in itself is shocking for a civil war era tale. But people are funny. Heck, life is funny. It surprises and shocks us. So does the book. The movie version mostly missed the humor, unfortunately. 2) The ending had to be what it was. A lot of people don't realize that the story is loosely based on the military service and adventures of a real person, Frazier's great uncle, William P. Inman. While sort of devastating in many ways, the ending is also sort of peaceful and hopeful as well. It could have been much worse. What if at Petersburg, in the beginning of the story, the shell that wounded Inman had killed him instead? Then where would our story be? He is basically living on borrowed time the whole way through the book. Thinking of oneself
as a near-ghost gives life an interesting perspective. I've noticed that in life, there are not always happy endings. In fact, I'm not sure there are endings at all, so much as there are journeys... and there are destinations. Cold Mountain is a story about life, and what a hauntingly beautiful life!
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. After spending the better part of the '90s putting little green Barnes & Noble "bestseller" stickers on this book, first the hardcover and then the paperback, I have finally read it - I don't know why I didn't before. Laurie read it earlier this year and loved it and knew I would, too. As far as American literature, historical fiction, epics, Civil War stories, journey stories, love stories, modern myths...this book has everything, and is written with such careful attention to detail - such finely drawn characters - I am rambling because it's so good that nothing I can say can possibly do it justice. It is not a mindless read. In fact, I read it slowly because I wanted to savor the beautiful writing. I will read it again, with a highlighter, to note all of the really gorgeous passages. And maybe someday I will come back to this review and revise it so it makes sense instead of just...gushing.
If you enjoy deeply felt intelligent literature, you will likely love this one. If your idea of good reading is of the "page turner" variety, you might give it a pass. Charles Frazier's hauntingly beautiful novel is a retelling of a life-changing time in American history and the lives of the residents of Cold Mountain. I have not read anything else that has moved me in such a profound way in recent memory. It is very deserving of all of the accolades that have been expressed and undeserving of the petty criticisms that have been registered here. To those, I would suggest that they try some Grisham or King perhaps and leave the good stuff to the grown-ups.
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