Reviews for Cold Mountain


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 June 1997
The Civil War's last months are the setting for this first novel by Frazier, erstwhile college teacher and author of travel books and stories. Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier, leaves the hospital before his gashed neck heals enough to get him sent back to war. Still weak, he heads for the mountains, where a minister's daughter named Ada is his objective. Inman's return could hardly be timelier for the Charleston-raised Ada: her father has died, and she finds she knows little about operating a farm. Frazier blends the story of Inman's journey with that of Ada's efforts, with the help of a drifter named Ruby, to wring a subsistence living from the neglected land; in the background are the yelping dogs of war (most dramatically, gangs chasing Confederate deserters like Inman), as well as hints of changes the end of war will bring. Cold Mountain, based on a Frazier family story, is a satisfying read, though for some readers elements of the story (e.g., Ada's dependence) are anachronistic. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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BookPage Reviews 1997 June
Charles Frazier uses reverse psychology to great advantage in his debut novel, "Cold Mountain," a Civil War saga with blood on its bayonets and romance in its gentle soul. The author takes some creative risks by reshaping the true battle tales of his great-great-grandfather into an epic story that accumulates power and purpose with each turn of the page.Our hero, Inman, much like the sensitive lead character in Stephen Crane's classic war novel, "The Red Badge of Courage," is sickened by the wanton waste of young lives on the battlefield and torn between the traditional conflict of valor and cowardice. In the field hospital, the injured Confederate private witnesses the brutality of both sides in the most bloody of American armed struggles, the War Between the States. Bodies stack up like lumber outside his window as the victorious soldiers, following their rout of Federal troops, strip the corpses of all valuables while their superior officers look the other way. Capturing a horrific moment in the carnage, Frazier chillingly describes how a calm Southern soldier finishes off the enemy's wounded with a well-placed blow of a hammer to the head.Emotionally shaken, Inman realizes that he will return to the front and possible death as soon as he is well. He watches men on both sides ordered to charge into lethal barrages of gunfire and cannon shot, only to fall after a few precious steps. The author makes some disturbing cultural and social commentary as Inman considers the war philosophy of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who saw battle as "a sacred act outranked only by prayer and Bible reading." The commander also felt armed conflict was "an instrument for clarifying God's obscure will," a view not shared by the youthful soldier who dons new clothes and decides to reclaim his old life regardless of the consequences.So the eventful journey back to his heartthrob, Ada, begins. At this point in the book, Frazier takes us into the life and mind of Ada, a young girl stunned by the sudden death of her consumptive father. Despite the man's standing in the community as a preacher, no one comes forward to help her until another fatherless young woman, Ruby, appears. Together they team up to put her farm back into operation, trading and bartering for the goods and services they need. It is the emotional bond between these two sturdy souls and their startling evolution as characters which lift this novel above and beyond the usual offerings in historical fiction.Wonderfully depicted passages of nature and wildlife enhance the fleeting periods of calm which interrupt the manic scenes of greed and bloodlust that befall Inman on his odyssey. He is jumped by scalawags, almost conned by a preacher who holds a drugged teenager hostage for his own pleasure, and later forced to marry a witless girl before being led away by vigilantes to be shot as a deserter. But Inman survives all of these nonstop perils to get back to Ada, the woman he loves, a free spirit completely changed from the innocent maiden he knew before his departure. Their reunion is superbly underplayed, tender yet real.It is in the concluding scenes of "Cold Mountain" that Frazier ties up the action with a handful of wise observations about what life could have been like in that dark time in American history. Lyrical and magnificent in its narrative power, this is one of the most promising literary debuts in some time. And we truly are glad that Charles Frazier remembered all those marvelous Civil War yarns his great-great-granddaddy passed along.Reviewed by Robert Fleming. Copyright 1999 BookPage Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1997 March
For his first novel, former writing instructor Frazier draws on his family history. A wounded Confederate soldier walks home through the ravaged South to a sweetheart who has been as changed by the war as he. A 40,000-copy first printing; sold to BOMC and Quality Paperback Book Club. Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1997 May
This monumental novel is set at the end of the Civil War and follows the journey of a wounded Confederate soldier named Inman as he returns home. Interwoven is the story of Ada, the woman he loves. Ada, who was raised in genteel society, cannot cope with the rigors of war until a woman called Ruby arrives to help her. Inman comes across memorable characters like the goatwoman, who lives off the secret herbs in the woods and Sara, a woman stranded with an infant who is assaulted by Yankee soldiers whom Inman later kills. After a long, threatening journey, Inman finally arrives home to Ada, "ravaged, worn ragged and wary and thin." His momentary homecoming, however, comes to a tragic end. A remarkable effort that opens up a historical past that will enrich readers not only with its story but with its strong characters. Highly recommended for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/97.]?David A. Berona, Univ. of New England, Biddeford, Me. Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 May #1
Rich in evocative physical detail and timeless human insight, this debut novel set in the Civil War era rural South considers themes both grand (humanity's place in nature) and intimate (a love affair transformed by the war) as a wounded soldier makes his way home to the highlands of North Carolina and to his prewar sweetheart. Shot in the neck during fighting at Petersburg, Inman was not expected to survive. After regaining the strength to walk, he begins his dangerous odyssey. Just as the traumas of life on the battlefront have changed Inman, the war's new social and economic conditions have left their mark on Ada. With the death of her father and loss of income from his investments, Ada can no longer remain a pampered Charleston lady but must eke out a living from her father's farm in the Cold Mountain community, where she is an outsider. Frazier vividly depicts the rough and varied terrain of Inman's travels and the colorful characters he meets, all the while avoiding Federal raiders and the equally brutal Home Guard. The sweeping cycle of Inman's homeward journey is deftly balanced by Ada's growing sense of herself and her connection to the natural world around the farm. In a leisurely, literate narrative, Frazier shows how lives of soldiers and of civilians alike deepen and are transformed as a direct consequence of the war's tragedy. There is quiet drama in the tensions that unfold as Inman and Ada come ever closer to reunion, yet farther from their former selves. BOMC and QPB selections; paperback rights to Vintage; rights sold in Germany, the U.K. and France; film rights sold to Lynne Pleshette. (June) FYI: Frazier's great-great-grandfather was the source of this story about a Civil War soldier who deserted and walked home. Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 November
YA As he recuperates in a North Carolina hospital from a serious wound sustained at Petersburg in 1864, Inman decides he's had enough. Knowing that he soon will be pronounced fit for duty, he climbs through a hospital window and starts walking home to Cold Mountain. Meanwhile, on the mountain, Ada struggles to subsist on her own. Her father's death has left her with a rundown farm and little of the know-how to care for it or for herself. Salvation arrives via concerned neighbors who send her Ruby, a no-nonsense, hard-working, illiterate young woman. The two women form an immediate bond and routine Ruby tutors Ada in farming and domestic chores during the day while Ada reads aloud from classic literature in the evenings. Frazier intersperses scenes of Ada and Ruby's home front with the perils Inman encounters on his trek through the wilderness. Meticulous, sometimes chilling, authenticity permeates the novel. YAs will be fascinated by the degree of historical detail, engrossed by the will-he-make-it aspect of Inman's adventures, and utterly taken with even the minor characters in this exceptional story. Dori DeSpain, Herndon Fortnightly Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 December
A Civil War soldier and a lonely woman embark on parallel journeys of danger and discovery. Environment, events, and the empathy of others transform the protagonists spiritually as well as physically. (Nov.) Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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