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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PLEASE Read...Tips to Conquering "Cold Mountain"
I consider myself a pretty sophisticated reader. But I share many of the same sentiments others have about the titanic struggle to conquer "Cold Mountain."
"Cold Mountain" has two primary stories. The first is about a wounded Civil War deserter named Inman who spends much of his time wandering home, facing obstacles to return to a beloved woman he hasn't seen in...
Published on July 25 2003 by David Kusumoto

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Muddled
The author states that he is "copying" Homer's "Odessey." Okay, now that we have determined that the author is humble and does not have any pretensions we can get down to reviewing this muddled mess.
I hate to complain (no I don't, but that is the fine print), but I would appreciate some realims in a supposedly realistic novel of the American Civil War. I also want...
Published on May 1 2004 by S. Annand


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PLEASE Read...Tips to Conquering "Cold Mountain", July 25 2003
By 
David Kusumoto (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
I consider myself a pretty sophisticated reader. But I share many of the same sentiments others have about the titanic struggle to conquer "Cold Mountain."
"Cold Mountain" has two primary stories. The first is about a wounded Civil War deserter named Inman who spends much of his time wandering home, facing obstacles to return to a beloved woman he hasn't seen in years. The second is about this beloved Ada and her friend Ruby, who transform the land upon which they live into a self-sufficient farm. Flashbacks recall things as they were between Inman and Ada before the war. These memories drive Inman home. Will he make it? If he does, will Ada remember? If she remembers, will she return his love? If these parallel stories intersect, will there be a good payoff?
I wish what I've described was as simple as the book. "Cold Mountain" reads like a reflective diary with microscopic details that do little to drive this plot quickly forward. Worse, UNLIKE a diary, it's told in the third person. It's not, "I thought this" or "I did that." It's "Inman thought this" and "Ada felt that." Yet this isn't a dumb book. Unconventional and ambitious, yes, but trash this isn't.
But who wants to read something that feels like work? I wondered, "why am I torturing myself?" Just to prove I can do it because it won a big-time award? Just to be a pseudo-intellectual hot-shot? Of course I don't want an easy, dumbed-down read, but I don't want a biology, geology or botany lesson on every page. Yet I finished "Cold Mountain."
So why am I still giving it four stars?
First, some tips about how I got through it. Just like a mountain that can only be conquered in little steps, "Cold Mountain" requires, even for sophisticated readers, a level of concentration I haven't devoted to any book since college. Do NOT be distracted by noise, lest you be sent backward a few sentences or worse, a few paragraphs or pages. Savor the meaning of one sentence at a time. Go slow and read no more than one chapter per sitting. But keep at it. Don't stop in the middle of a chapter. You don't want to go back because you forgot where you left off. But if you start daydreaming about your job or a trip to the food court, stop.
Using this "disciplined" method of tackling "Cold Mountain" - by the time I got about a quarter of the way through - I started discovering TWO reasons why this book achieves excellence, albeit the kind that will forever polarize readers, and rightly so.
FIRST, "Cold Mountain" is a purposely challenging and romantic (yes it is), novel with many bloody, grimy and depressing details. It's difficult because it has none of the sentence structure with which we're accustomed. But my negative attitude began to shift when I realized the novel is written like an old museum relic, the only surviving account of thoughts from a random dead narrator from the 1860s.
Author Charles Frazier has accomplished the near impossible, recreating a style of historic writing that feels as Greek as reading Jane Austen or Shakespeare for the first time. Everything animal, mineral and vegetable is given character. The mood is beyond melancholy, and there's danger around every corner. Nothing feels certain.
SECOND, I began noticing, and not in any pretentious way, that every page in "Cold Mountain" had at least one or two nuggets of information made more beautiful through the eyes of a 19th century narrator ignorant of the 21st century. Stuff like:
"All that night the aurora flamed - and (the men) vied to see - who could most convincingly render its meaning down into plain speech."
"(Describing a mentally challenged young man): Everything he saw was (newly) minted, and thus every day was a parade of wonders."
"(Inman as he inspects a freshly covered grave): If (there's) a world beyond the grave as (the) hymns claim, such a hole (seems) a grim and lonesome portal to it."
I think most who dislike "Cold Mountain" are rightfully reacting to its tedious historical style and structure rather than the story that lurks within its pages. But I also think, because I had the same negative reaction initially, that approaching this novel with more discipline, you might come away with greater respect for Frazier's ambitious effort to take a conventional romantic story and have it "re-told" - 19th century style - hence feeling unconventional compared to what's found in most present day bestsellers. It just stands out.
I'm glad I gave it another shot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revisited, April 8 2004
By 
C. L Wilson (Elmhurst, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
I see there are 1370 other reviews. I'n not sure I can add anything new, except to say I just finished rereading the book after seeing the movie. And Yes, Nicole Kidman was too perfectly beautiful to be believable in that place and those times. I had first read "Cold Mountain" when it initially came out, and in reading my review I saw that I had thought the characters rather shallow, and the Frazier was more concerned with the details of everyday life at that time than he was in creating life-like people. In that opinion, I have changed my mind. Someone once said "Life is in the details" and Frazier knew it. However, in another, I have not. I thought then, and I think now, that the ending was a cheap shot. As if the author didn't know where to go or what to do. But it was truly a beautifully written novel, and many passages are memorable. In the first read, I complained that Inman's story was nothing more than a road trip. I have since been on such a journey myself, and can now appreciate such a trip more. It is composed of the people you meet, as was Inman's. Homer was the first to recognize that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PERFECT READING, Dec 22 2003
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cold Mountain (Audio CD)
One would be hard pressed to think of any words of praise that have not already been heaped upon Charles Frazier's Civil War masterpiece "Cold Mountain." Winner of the National Book Award, it has been called "Magnificent," "Impressive and enthralling," "Magnetic." These views were shared by millions of readers who bought the book and eagerly shared it with friends.
Fortunately, my task is not to amplify the accolades that "Cold Mountain" has already received but to focus on the unabridged audio version read by the author. Many have called Mr. Frazier a born storyteller, that appellation proves true in his sometimes intense, always understanding reading.
Born in Asheville, North Carolina, he brings appropriate voice to the saga of Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier who leaves his regiment to begin a trek home to Ada, the woman he loves, and a farm on Cold Mountain.
Set against a backdrop of the last days of the Civil War and the changes that will bring much drama is found in the people Inman meets along the way and in his relationship to the ravaged land he encounters.
The recent release of "Cold Mountain" as a major motion picture starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger will undoubtedly win this popular novel countless new fans.
Yet a very special pleasure is to be found in listening to the story read by its author. Mr. Frazier has said in an interview that Inman is based upon his great great uncle and his great grandfather, both of whom were soldiers in the Civil War. In effect, this is a family story beautifully imagined and related.
Charles Frazier is the one man who could write it; he is the one man to give it voice.
- Gail Cooke
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cold Mountain: A Novel, March 5 2013
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This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Paperback)
I really enjoyed Cold Mountain: A Novel. I loved the development of the characters and the wonderful descriptions of the scenery. It highlighted the true casualties of war.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Muddled, May 1 2004
By 
S. Annand (Alexandria, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
The author states that he is "copying" Homer's "Odessey." Okay, now that we have determined that the author is humble and does not have any pretensions we can get down to reviewing this muddled mess.
I hate to complain (no I don't, but that is the fine print), but I would appreciate some realims in a supposedly realistic novel of the American Civil War. I also want to skip over the "must have" items in any contemporary American novel that all editors insist on having. What I am talking about are the "sensitive, handsome and heroic male protagonist," the "strong, independent woman he yearns for against convention," and the "horribly evil 'entity' whose name must not be spoken." Frazier also did not forget the must-have "imps" (this time an albino) who help him in all his evil deeds.
Now that I have dispensed with the card-board cutouts, I'll take a swing at the "history" (quotation mark alert). Here is just one ridiculous history lesson. On page 68, for instance, Inman is shot at by a Whitworth sniper rifle. These rifles were the undisputed favorites of Confederate snipers. They were imported from England in small numbers, and had a killing range of 1,500 yards. The twisting hexagonal bore was what gave this .45 calibre rifle its accuracy. The problem is that this unique rifle shot a very unique and expensive bullet, meaning no sniper would waste a shot like that--not to mention missing Inman by a mile. This is simply not believable, but makes for sexy reading, impressing the New York editors who don't know jack. Having a yahoo shoot from the river bank ain't enough.
My other complaint about "history" is the fact that all Civil War heroes must have fought at Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Antietam (okay, Sharpsburg), The Crater, etc. But, hey, why not have this super-hero fight at all of the above? Better than that, put him in the middle of the line each time. My ancestors were at Gettysburg (9th Georgia Infantry, the winning side), but they fought in the Wheat Field. Ain't good enough.
But the truth for this novel would have had a negative effect. Or maybe it would have made it better? Frazier places Inman in the center of the line during Picketts Charge (Longstreet's Assault). I hate to break this news, but the North Carolinians held the LEFT during the charge. Worse for the book, the North Carolinians were accused of cowardice during the charge, as they were the first to falter (they were enfiladed) and retreated, leaving Pickett isolated and bound to fail. I guess that means Inman, if he were alive today, would be lying his ass off about his war record.
If you want an easy-to-read book , I would recommend this. I just wish the ones being touted for "historical" accuracy as an historical novel would actually describe real life. Believe it or not, the Civil War was much more interesting to the real participants than this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tasty read with a slightly bitter aftertaste, Oct. 6 1997
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
I have only one real complaint about Charles Frazier's book, Cold Mountain.
For me, the language of the book is the star. Frazier gives his characters and his narrator (what I assume to be) a lexicon authentic to mid-19th century, rural North Carolina. It was entertaining to read expressions that one would not hear today, and yet to find them not totally unfamiliar. The intertwined stories were interesting enough, with Inman's being a tale of determination in the face of danger and barely-averted disasters, and Ada's and Ruby's more a journal of self-reliance and self-discovery. The violence of Inman's journey is balanced by the slower paced struggle by the women against, ultimately, the same enemy.

My complaint is only about the final pages of the book. The reader spends 350+ pages wondering if Inman and Ada will ever get together and, if so, will the evil of the times, personified in the cruel Home Guard, allow their reunion to be happy and long-lived. When the smoke from this inevitable confrontation clears, the outcome is uncertain and our questions unanswered. Thank goodness for the epilogue! Frazier takes us ten years into the future presumably to tie up the loose ends of his captivating tale. However, he is deliberately slightly vague about what has happened to Inman. The reader can piece together the obvious clues and decide whether all is well or not, but the fact that the Frazier is only slightly ambiguous (Inman's name is never used) is what is troublesome to me. It left an aftertaste of false "artsy-ness," as if to use this device would turn his novel into "literature." It was unnecessary and unsatisfying.

All in all, though, the book is well worth the time invested by the reader. I look forward to Charles Frazier's next offering, as long as, in the meantime, he does not take up dressing in period garb and issue an album of himself playing fiddle ballads of the Civil War.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Mountain, July 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Cold Mountain (Paperback)
I'm a fan of anything dealing with the south, the (un)Civil War, or anything remotely connected. Cold Mountain is the story of a man's journey in the literal sense as well as a trip within himself. Our protagonist, Inman, travels great distances for his love, Ada, who meanwhile is busy taking care of her farm. On his journey, Inman meets several characters and undergoes many adventures. Frazier's book is a feast of visual and natural imagery. He constantly brings the land and the weather, especially fog and rain to the forefront, giving the setting almost character appeal. The only book I've liked better than this one is THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD by Jackson McCrae
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful !!!!, July 6 2004
By 
J. Viers "bebebubba2" (Streamwood, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
I read all the time....and go through all kinds of books....like some, hate some, am bored by others. Until I read this book, my five favorite books were Precious Bane, Power In The Blood, Joy Luck Club, the Lonesome Dove Trilogy and The Citadel. Now I have yet another favorite.....Cold Mountain. If you are one to enjoy subtle details combined with a compelling story....you will probably love this book, too. I saw the movie after reading the book....and, although I loved the movie...I was really disappointed....it seemed that the screenwriter never read the book....but just skimmed it. This book deserves to be read from cover to cover...and then kept to be read again and again....and only loaned out to friends who you know will return it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Side of the Civil War, June 24 2004
By 
B. Breen "Canuckster1127" (Sterling, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
An amazing first novel.
The writing is poignant, and highly descriptive. There are some idiosyncracies to adapt to, but this book moves from the normal brass and bravado of Civil War history to paint a story of one soldier's flight from battle from a hospital bed.
The pictures it weaves are of life in the south toward the end of the war when the inevitable conclusion is known and drawing painfully to an end. This paints the necessary flip-side to the glorious front airbrushed in "Killer Angels" or "God's and Generals." For all the hardship and romantic glory of the doomed Southern cause and the military brilliance of Lee, the martyrdom of Jackson and dogged determination of Grant, at least on the Southern side, the story was whether property could be held, travel accomplished safely or a safe meal obtained. Hard as the troops had it, they had it better than the general populace that gambled all on their success, and ultimately lost.
Inman's homeric travels, seemingly implausible escapes and the surprise (but not really all that surprising) ending draw Darwinian parallels to the daily struggle of survival. In the end he lives to pass on his love and life against all odds.
It is tedious in places where scenery seems to eclipse the story line, but hard not to appreciate the vivid detail and nature descriptions. As the book progressed I found it easier to focus on these sections. That this was so speaks to the writing skill as able to overcome my trained expectations from other such stories of action and heroics.
All in all a very worthy and necessary offering to the typical Civil War novel. A counterpoint to the bravado of Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but played in a minor key. Well worth the time and effort to read.
I look forward to the next offering.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first book for a new author., June 6 2004
By 
D S H (Upstate New York, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
I had been skeptical of this book for quite awhile. I've owned it since 1999, but hadn't gotten around to reading it until just recently. I suppose being skeptical added to the procrastination.
Boy, am I glad I finally read it. Frazier has put a lot of time and effort into this book, and it shows. He has a very unique style of writing (such his way of writing when a character speaks). Although many of us may not write like Frazier nor have a desire to, it is great to open ourselves up to a different style of writing. Lots of thought is put into every idea in the book. There are many unexpected twists.
Although this wasn't a story which I would normally be ecstatic about, it was definitely a good one. One of the few 'war' books I've actually lost myself in. Frazier's writing is very intriguing and definitely something to experience. It's also the kind of story that doesn't need to be read very quickly and in a short amount of time. Feel free to span this book over a month or more, gives you more time to think about everything in it.
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