Read 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 Cold Mountain begins with Inman, a confederate soldier, laid up convalescing in a military hospital. As he heals, his dread of returning to the fighting grows and he eventually decides to strike out for home and his left love— in the shadows of Cold Mountain (near Brevard in modern day western North Carolina). That left love, Ada, a preacher’s daughter originally from Charleston, meanwhile, is trying to cope with the loss of her father and her newfound destitution. She may not have survived but for a partnership with a mountain woman, Ruby, her complete opposite in almost every way and her likeness in every other. I grew up in this part of the country, with roots in the area that go back to well before the Civil War, and the language rings truer than any I have read elsewhere, whether written by Ron Rash, Cormac McCarthy, or whoever. And Frazier does it without resorting to phonetic spelling. It really does read like it’s a story your grandfather is telling you by the fireplace after Sunday dinner. One that was passed down to him from his grandfather. There are so many sort of random details that just feel right. It’s the sort of book I wanted to read at my desk with a notebook beside me but that I couldn’t bear to read so slowly the first time through. The prose is beautiful by any measure. Cold Mountain doesn’t have a lot of action. It takes its time, really drinking in the place and daily lives of Inman, Ada, and Ruby. The narrative is not strictly chronological, frequently jumping back and forth between present events, Ada coming to Cold Mountain, Inman and Ada’s budding romance in the lead up to the war, and so on. Inman and Ada’s views on each other, the war, and life in general are considerably confused, something Frazier explores in depth and with great nuance. Frazier’s story well embodies the mountain ethos. Inman, Ada, and Ruby, each in many ways an ideal of the ethos, are all ruggedly individualistic. They suffer from their unwillingness to ask for help. But their mistrust of others is often well founded. Their success owes entirely to their own sweat and toil and the occasional unasked for assistance of a few kind souls. The government, Federal or Confederate, is absentee at best and actively destructive at worst. It is a bittersweet book; fitting, for that is as life in rural, southern Appalachia has always been.
I thought this book was terrific though it took several tries for me to really get into it. Similar to watching a British-made film where it takes a bit for my ear to get acclimated to those accents, it took a bit for me to get with the cadence of author Charles Frazier's prose-like narrative style. But once I hooked into it the results were stunning. I also saw the movie version of "Cold Mountain" and thought it was also a visually stunning masterpiece. What the movie director accomplished through visual cinematography, Frazier accomplished through his brilliantly crafted words. The storyline is one in which a young Confederate soldier is so drawn by a love for a women he but briefly knew three years earlier that he walks out of an army hospital and walks back to Cold Mountain to be with her. His 300 mile journey takes him not only through the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains but also through the tragedies and struggles of war. The war that Frazier describes is not one that is fought on the grand battlefields but one that is fought by common people struggling to survive. Apparently from all of the Amazon.com reviews, "Cold Mountain" is a love-it or hate-it type of novel. Me, I loved it and would heartily recommend it to anyone who has an appreciation for brilliant writing.
I bought this book on a very bad day. I was overwhelmed with our situation---the layoff, the uncertainty, along with the usual doubts about how I was doing as a mother---and I ran off after dinner. I left the house on foot and walked downtown to the library, my safe haven always, no matter where I live. On the shelves outside the library shop, I found a copy of Cold Mountain. I'd watched the movie with mixed feelings, but the "National Book Award Winner" sticker on the cover won me over. I bought the book and walked back home to my family. It's taken me more than a month to finally finish reading the book, what with life intervening and all. But in the end, it seems a very apt book to have picked up in that moment. In a way, this book is about life. It's about the quest from ease to hardship then back towards ease when you know what you've lost seeking hardship. Without the hardship, you wouldn't have known what you were missing. But the hardship itself makes it impossible to live the ease when you return. And of course, there's no ease in the end. Only death. Wow, that was a dreary review. But really, I found the book amazing. Frazier's style was conversational in the mountain-speak sense. He wrote eloquently about one of my favorite parts of the world, the mountains of North Carolina. I have an affinity towards this area. It's one of the few places I've been that immediately felt like home to me (and still does). I related to the draw that Inman felt towards that blue and rolling landscape. It's unlikely I will ever have the opportunity to live there.
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