Friday, April 15, 2011

Review of the Day: Cold Mountain


Charles Frazier won the National Book Award for Cold Mountain, his Civil war novel about a Confederate deserter and the woman waiting for his return.

Most of the book follows the two stories separately. Innman musters himself out of the army after he was injured in battle. Working his way home to Cold Mountain, he encounters Federal raiders terrorizing women and children, Home Guard vigilantes hunting deserters, remnants of families trying to survive the war, and a few misfits and eccentrics whose off-kilter lifestyles seem unaffected by the conflict. The damage inflicted on his soul and psyche as a result of these adventures is profound.

Playing Penelope to Innman’s Odysseus, Ada Monroe keeps the home fires burning back at her Cold Mountain farm. Left helpless by the death of her courtly father, Ada learns the value of hard work from her new companion, the no-nonsense Ruby. The story of the two women raising crops, making cider, trading for supplies, splitting firewood, and generally preparing for a long winter is deeply satisfying to anyone with a nesting instinct.

Both the characters and the themes are thorny, making the story one worth pondering. Frazier’s writing is graceful, even lyrical, and he has an ear for rural analogy that brings life to the setting. Part adventure story, part romance, and part moral treatise, Cold Mountain is an incredibly good book.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


This was one of my National Book Award choices for the 2011 Battle of the Prizes, American Version, challenge.


  1. I really liked this book. I read it a few years ago and it's one of my "draft" posts.

  2. I started this one a while ago but never did finish it. It sounds like I should try it again.

  3. Man of la Book: I liked it a LOT more than I thought I would. It really grew on me.

    I know just what you mean about "draft" posts. I have several of those myself. Good intentions. . .

    Kathy: I listened to the audio, read by the author, although I didn't realize it at the time. He did a very good job.

  4. I have this one on my TBR stack. I really liked the movie....

  5. An apt review, I think, of a book I liked as well.

  6. I'm also a fan of this novel. It was just so much better than I thought it could be...and for some reason, I'm afraid to read anything else of Frazier's. For reasons I can't articulate, I feel like he must be like Ann Patchett - able to write one amazing book (in her case, Bel Canto) and everything else is just mediocre. Irrational, yes, but also irresistible.

  7. I saw the movie version of 'Cold Mountain' which was okay but I would like to read the book. Books are usually so much better.

  8. Glad to see you liked this book. I'll be reading it later this year for a read-a-long. I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations.

  9. I loved this book, which I read when it first came out and would love to reread it. I still remember the scene where Inman hides in the hollow tree--that part just blew me away. Did you ever see the movie? I still haven't myself.


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