Top critical review
BORED ME TO DEATH!!!!!
on November 18, 2000
Believe me when I say that I wanted to "love" this book as much as some of the other reviewers here. I've had it sitting on my shelf for quite some time and this past week I finally gave it the nod and began my journey along with Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier returning by foot to his beloved Cold Mountain.
As we travel with Inman, the trek becomes grueling and so does the book. I didn't realize when he left the hospital that he was actually leaving without the Army's blessing so thus his journey becomes one of not only trying to get home but of hiding out from other soldiers who might perhaps view his journey as cowardly. Frazier gives the reader a poor feeling of time so it's hard to figure out how long he's been travelling. Along the way, he meets an assortment of seedy characters who think nothing of shooting someone without giving it a second thought. He also meets some needy people -- people he can help and who, in turn, can help him. He has one goal in mind throughout this entire expedition -- to not only get home but to return to the woman who is hopefully waiting for him on Cold Mountain.
This woman is Ada, born and raised in Charleston but relocated to the Blue Ridge Mountains by her father, a preacher seeking better surroundings for health reasons. As the story unfolds, Ada is on her own journey trying to manage a farm with the limited knowledge she possesses. Along comes Ruby, a young woman left alone by her drunken father. Together they forge a friendship that works for both of them. Ruby is quite adept at survival and gets Ada on her feet and working towards making the farm a manageable operation.
You will travel back and forth from chapter to chapter experiencing first Inman's travails and then Ada's and back again to Inman. I found the chapters concerning Ada and Ruby to be much more enjoyable.
I think the main problem I had with this book, aside from the fact that it put me to sleep, was the fact that Ada and Inman hardly had much of a relationship before he left for the war. Since it is her image that keeps him going, I found this implausible. Perhaps if there had been a wonderful love story between them that was interrupted by the war, I would have been pushing Inman along myself in his quest to get back home to his beloved Ada. Since this relationship was never even developed by Frazier, I couldn't root for their reunion as much as I would have liked to. For all I knew, she wouldn't even know who he was by the time he got home.
The bottom line is that this just isn't my kind of book. It won the National Book Award so who am I not to like it. For that matter, I didn't care for In The Fall by Jeffrey Lent and Plainsong by Kent Haruf -- two other slow moving stories. If you like that kind of book and like the two books I've just mentioned, then you'll probably like Cold Mountain. Otherwise, I'd just pass and move on to something else. I wish I had.