Bookin' It

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The Second Time Around: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

In keeping with my plan to intersperse some older reviews of more “literary” works with my current reviews, which are often Urban Fantasy works, here is The Second Time Around #2. Enjoy!

Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain cover

My Rating:  5 of 5 Stars

Written in 1997, Cold Mountain remains one of my favorite books of all time.  A modern day classic set during the Civil War, it details the long journey home of a Confederate soldier who has recovered from serious injury, and knows he is going to be sent back to fight again.  The tale of his arduous struggle to get back to Ada, the woman he loves,  is so incredibly beautiful, I was in tears throughout much of the book.  (Again, since my husband says I cry at K-Mart openings, you can make of that what you will.) 

This is a book readers seem to love passionately or hate with great vigor.  Sometimes I think some people just hate any book that becomes a huge commercial success, as though if it were really great literature, it would remain obscure, and only the elite few would ever read it.  Thankfully, the ones who love Cold Mountain are in the VAST majority, as it is so deserving of the praise heaped upon it by nearly all who have read it.

The mountains of North Carolina are special to me…almost magical in their beauty and strength.  They are part of the oldest mountain chain on the planet, and they give off an almost primeval sense of mystic power.  I felt every bit of that power while reading Frazier’s beautifully descriptive prose.  I also felt every desperate longing Inman carried in his heart, as he struggled to reach his home.  His narrative alternates with that of Ada, who is a city girl woefully unprepared to run the family farm she has inherited.  She shows tremendous pluck and courage of her own, trying to make a go of it during the deprivations of a brutal war. 

When I first began to read the book, I was put off a bit by the complete lack of quotation marks around any dialog, throughout.  I thought it was a bit of an affectation, and I could have done without it.  But as I read, a strange thing happened.  Somehow, the spoken words began to feel as if they were inside my head, in a much stronger way than normal dialog would be.  It was as though leaving the quotation marks out made the words move IN, and become part of my own thinking processes.  Whether this was intentional, I have no idea, but it turned what began as an irritation into something rather profound. 

There was a pretty good movie made of Cold Mountain, starring Jude Law as Inman, Nicole Kidman as Ada, and Renee Zellweger as Ruby.  When I first read the casting, I thought they had gotten it all wrong, as is the way in Hollywood so often.  None of the actors fit the physical descriptions of Frazier’s characters.  But I actually ended up liking all three  in their roles.  Especially Jude Law, who often brings a great intensity to the characters he portrays.  So overall, I thought Cold Mountain made a good movie.  But it made a GREAT book, far and above what any film could possibly capture, no matter how skilled the actors. 

I highly recommend this book to those who haven’t already discovered it on their own.  It’s lovely, passionate, and heart-wrenching!

Cold Mountain

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4 thoughts on “The Second Time Around: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

  1. Great review. I really enjoyed Cold Mountain — I thought the sense of place and the mythic feel of the narrative really worked for me.

    Do not get me started on Thirteen Moons, however. 🙂


    • Hi, Steve! Glad you agree with me on Cold Mountain. It’s such a beautiful work! I never could work up enough interest in Thirteen Moons to read it, for some reason. I think some writers who manage to produce a book so perfect, both as a work of literary art and as a commercial success, never quite find their way back to that level again. It’s a shame, really. (Maybe it’s the Salinger curse?) Maybe some writers only have one really great book in them. I don’t know, but I do know that I will never forget Cold Mountain, and Charles Frazier will hold a permanent place of honor in my heart for creating it.

      Thanks for stopping by. I still haven’t been able to get back to reading all my favorite blogs on a regular basis, yet. Hope that will change soon, so I can stop by and see how my favorite pointer is doing. 🙂


      • It’s a funny thing — that lightning in a bottle. As a writer/artist it must me simultaneously exultant and frustrating.

        Your favorite pointer is currently asleep on the couch… 🙂


        • Lightning in a bottle is a perfect way to describe it. I think it would be so hard to live up to what people want from you after writing a masterpiece…a person could buckle under the weight of all those expectations. (I’ll be happy just telling little stories for the amusement of a few readers here and there. There’s value in that, too.) But a Work of Art carries an awful lot of pressure along with it.

          Give Penny a pat on the head from her Granny M in Florida. She’s truly one of the prettiest dogs I know of! You got a Specimen, right there!


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