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Why read it?
5 authors picked Cold Mountain as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
Frazier’s book, a serious novel rather than a potboiler, set during and after the American Civil War, nevertheless leaped onto the bestseller lists, then went on to win a National Book Award. Why? Reading the book is a profound experience. You are seamlessly taken back to the middle of the 19th century and engaged with characters whose poignant stories penetrate a reader’s heart. It’s both an adventure and a love story about a soldier on a fraught journey home and his lover’s story as she lives her own life close to the earth in a time before modern conveniences…
Cold Mountain tells two intertwined stories, often in alternating chapters: one narrative strand follows W. P. Inman, a wounded Confederate veteran who walks home to the North Carolina mountains; the second narrative follows the wartime life of Inman’s beloved Ada Monroe. In this way, the novel portrays both life in the army and life on the home front—equally desperate realities. The novel also studies the war through both masculine and feminine lenses. It is based in part on Homer’s Odyssey and is indeed epic in scope. Cold Mountain has remained an incredibly popular novel and was the basis for the…
For recent U.S. wars such as Vietnam or Iraq, there’s a considerable body of work both fiction and nonfiction that focuses on the travails of soldiers after the fighting ends. But this is a Civil War-era novel about coming home. It follows a Confederate deserter who leaves a Virginia hospital and sets out for his North Carolina farm. At times heart-breaking, at times uproariously funny, Cold Mountain addresses the weight of war, and the way that survivors are burdened with wounds both physical and psychological.
Like Gone With the Wind, this book was also made into an award-winning movie. I find the novel interesting because of the way Charles Frasier wrote it. There are no quotation marks in the book! I’m not sure why he chose to write it like that, but it’s interesting, nevertheless.
My own novel, The Abolitionist’s Daughter, has been compared to Frazier’s finely wrought best seller. Not for the trek of the wounded, disillusioned Confederate soldier back to his home in the Blue Ridge, but for the intrepid efforts of two women to survive in a world absent of men at war. Like The Abolitionist’s Daughter, Cold Mountain focuses on the deep inner strength and resilience of women left to till the land and make a life for themselves. In doing so, they discover the shared grief and immense strength in each other. Their unforeseen love stories enhance who they…
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