Cold Mountain

Author: Charles Frazier

Publisher: Vintage Books (purchase online through Amazon.com)
Copyright: 1997
ISBN: 0-375-70075-7
List Price: $13 (US)
448 pages

Review Author: Karen A. Bornstein


Everything you may have heard about this book is true, and that makes for a wonderful read. The story is set in Civil War times and tells of the incredible separate journeys of W. P. Inman and Ada Morgan. Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier, walks out of the hospital and doesn't stop until he reaches home, Cold Mountain, and returns to his beloved Ada. Along the way, Inman encounters bad guys, good guys, good women, and learns more of his own identity. Ada's journey is an internal one where, after her father's death leaves her alone, she sheds the feminine stereotypes of the polite Charleston society in which she was raised to do what it takes to keep her farm going. Both characters are changed by their journeys and become wholly dedicated to each other and to their dreams.

Frazier did his research well, for the story contains much detail about the everyday lives of the people, which helps the reader easily feel the essence of life (and death) in that time. It also feels natural to live Inman's and Ada's experiences vicariously. The world was certainly a different place then, violent and urgent, yet people seem to want the same things no matter what time they live in: family and community.

This story's pace is slow, parallel to the hero's long walk home, and is reminiscent to times when life was indeed slower. Relax as you read this, smell the bacon frying, hear the chickens clucking and the goats naying, the creek running, and the leaves rustling. This book deserves to be a best seller for a long time.

First Version: 11 October 1998