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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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3.0 out of 5 stars A Dark And Gloomy Tale Of Civil War South
It took me several attempts before I could finally get into this novel because it starts out so slowly. The story of a deserter who struggles to return home to his sweetheart, waiting for him back at Cold Mountain and who is going through her own trials, is dark and gloomy; there is little joy in this tale. On the plus side, Charles Frazier, the author, has a real...
Published on Dec 27 2003 by Michael W. Kennedy


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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
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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)   
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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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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4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Side of the Civil War, June 24 2004
By 
Bart Breen "Bart Breen" (Sterling, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Immense, May 2 2004
By 
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
The contents of this novel are well represented by that huge, misty landscape on the cover. Cold Mountain seems to come from another era, one where authors weren't forced into the straightjacket of pithy sentences and cheap wit; it's reminiscent of Twain or Robert Penn Warren, huge, sprawling and thoughtful; there's something almost miraculous about it.
Some people may have been dissapointed with the novel because it isn't really about two of the things that it was reported to be about. It isn't pedantic historic fiction, a la 'The Killer Angels,' and not meant to shed light on the Civil War as a histroical phenomenon. It also isn't much as a retelling of the Odyssey. The underlying theme - looking for home and encountering obstacles - is the same, and there may be some resemblances between the obstacles that Ulysses and Inman face, but the heritage isn't noteworthy in any way.
What Cold Mountain does have is an endless depth of innovation in theme and style and character. It manages somehow to shift from a rousing adventure story to a contented and charming chronicle of farm life, to an eerie, sort of Sartrean mediation on life and morality, to an exploration of Southern folklore and small personal history. You can feel the author's talent stretching the bounds of the subject matter sometimes. He wants and has the ability to write about everything, from the greatest person to the smallest, from a gruesome battle to dinner in an inn. It's so eclectic, even, that it begins to approach a fault, but Frazier ties things together nicely using the theme of the war. Early on, Robert E. Lee is criticized for his smug 'It's a good thing war is so terrible; otherwise we might grow to like it.' Inman reflects that for a man like Lee, noble and dramatic, war is really not terrible, and that he has no compunction about sending 'lesser' men to die. Later on, this malcious spirit of greatness takes form as General Teague, captain of the southern home defense force, a real Bond villian of a character. The first couple of times he appears, complete with sidekicks, hammy dialogue and gut-splattering violence, are so brilliantly calculated; later, when he tracks down and confronts Inman, it plays out in such an intriguingly symbolic way, bringing the novel to a satisfactory close. There's a point where, reflecting on the death of a scoundrel, Inman thinks something like: 'There was no sense of redemption or nobility about it...neither did it seem like a deserved or justified end. It had simply happened,' and that seems to be the theme. Cold Mountain tries to encompass almost everything in life, and succeeds more than you would think possible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Mountain, March 11 2004
By 
D. Thorne (Bartlett, TN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
Charles Frazier's COLD MOUNTAIN is a success, not because of the screenplay that adapted to it to film, but because it sets a standard on par with the great American novel. It does not compel the reader to toss pages like coins, nor does it use suspense or erotica to entice the reader into delving for more. It simply does what great literature does: leads your mind and heart on an odyssey into the lives of simple characters with complex issues that are universal.
There is no simpler story line than that of love and devotion between parent and child, between two hearts melded together at first glance, or of friendship. Cold Mountain brings this recognizable plot into an environment, cultivated by war and bloodshed, compassion, trust, and forgiveness. It is Frazier's ability to bring it forward in these new clothes, and his poetic sense of description and structure that lures us into a poignant
deja vu we recognize as the chapters pass. We all have loved and have lost; we all have been touched by the handiwork of God.
Cold Mountain should be set down from time to time while being read. It was never meant to peruse and scan idly. This book will provoke thought and recollection. It echoes timeless lessons from the Heavens by reminding one of the ties between deity and nature, and opposing forces of the good and the evil, which battle not only around us but within the darkest canyons of our hearts. The beauty with which Frazier narrates this Appalachian journey is as if falling headlong into a poem, Frost perhaps, and then leveling off somewhere along side a stream to ponder for a season its significance. It is the standard by which all future literature will be judged by anyone who has the ability to grasp the genius of its composition. May it be ravished by romantics, enjoyed by historians, studied by writers, and treasured for what it truly is: gifted storytelling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why Must Life Be So Cold?, Feb. 28 2004
By 
This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
This was an excellent read. It quickly made its way up to my number two spot for favourite books (Just behing Gabrel Garcia Marquez's divine prose: One Hundred Years of Solitude). As we all know, the story takes place towards the end of the Civil War. Inman who lived in Cold Mountain (and was in love with the Ada) is injured in war and sent to a hospital. He eventually deserts and takes the dangerous trek back to Cold Mountain on foot. Many adventures await both Inman, and the emotionally scarred and lonly Ada.
The book is a lot more indepth and somewhat different than the movie (which I loved). The only problem I had with the book was the lack of quotation marks. It was sort of awkward dividing quotes with either a hyphen or nothing but a comma. More awkward than an inconvience. But it's not that difficult and I got used to it.
I would also recommend Homer's Odyssey, which Frazer loosley based this on (as well as a relative of his who fought in the civil war). This is an excellent book and will make you think a lot about love and war.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Written, Feb. 7 2004
By 
Brkat (Southeast, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cold Mountain: A Novel (Hardcover)
I thought this book was terrific though it took several tries for me to really get into it. Similar to watching a British-made film where it takes a bit for my ear to get acclimated to those accents, it took a bit for me to get with the cadence of author Charles Frazier's prose-like narrative style. But once I hooked into it the results were stunning. I also saw the movie version of Cold Mountain and thought it was also a visually stunning masterpiece. What the movie director accomplished through visual cinematography, Frazier accomplished through his brilliantly crafted words.
The storyline is basically one where a young man in the Confederate army is so drawn by a love for a women he but briefly knew three years earlier that he walks out of an army hospital and walks back to her and to Cold Mountain. His 300 mile journey takes him not only through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains but also through the tragedies and struggles of war. The war that Frazier describes is not one that is fought on the grand battlefields but one that is fought by people struggling to survive.
Apparently from all of the Amazon.com reviews, Cold Mountain is a love-it or hate-it type of novel. Me, I loved it and would heartily recommend it to anyone who has an appreciation for brilliant writing.
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Cold Mountain: A Novel by Charles Frazier (Paperback - Aug. 31 2006)
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