Amanda's Reviews > Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
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Dec 20, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: kick-ass, blog
Read in January, 2012 , read count: 4

Cold Mountain is quite possibly the most beautiful book that I've ever read. It's not for the faint of heart, however, as it's time consuming and requires a great deal of patience as Frazier takes his time with his descriptions of the landscape and the people as Inman, a soldier broken in spirit by the futility and waste of the Civil War, decides to walk home to Ada and his beloved Cold Mountain. That is not to say that Frazier wastes the reader's time or goes off on unnecessary tangents (although for those who like quick narratives, it may seem that way), but he is in no hurry to rush the novel to its conclusion. To have done so would have stripped the novel of its power as it examines the lives of both Inman and Ada, a Southern belle woefully unprepared to exist in the harsh mountain landscape of Cold Mountain when she finds herself all alone. What may seem like lengthy transcendentalist-like descriptions of nature actually serve to reveal the inner life of each character and enrich the narrative.

Of the two alternating narratives, I found Inman's the most compelling. His is a Dante-like journey through the "Inferno" of the American South (comparisons could also be made to Homer's The Odyssey). While he time and again encounters people wallowing in depravity and sin in a seemingly lawless world, he also encounters along this hellish journey acts of selflessness and kindness that serve as balm to his soul when he's on the cusp of losing all hope. Ironically, those offering the greatest kindnesses are those who are the most excluded from society (slaves and women). Inman is a man who is capable of violence, but only when necessary. After killing indiscriminately in war, he's determined to do no harm unless it's absolutely unavoidable. It may be because of the violence that is still latent within him that Inman struggles so with the world and his place in it.

Of the reviews I've read, most readers disliked the novel's ending. Without giving away any spoilers, I'll only state that I thought the ending was the only possible one offered in a world consumed by war.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
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Quotes Amanda Liked

Charles Frazier
“One thing he discovered with a great deal of astonishment was that music held more for him than just pleasure. There was meat to it. The grouping of sounds, their forms in the air as they rang out and faded, said something comforting to him about the rule of creation. What the music said was that there is a right way for things to be ordered so that life might not always be just tangle and drift, but have a shape, an aim. It was a powerful argument against the notion that things just happen.”
Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

Charles Frazier
“He had been alone in the world and empty for so long. But she filled him full, and so he believed everything that had been taken out of him might have been for a purpose. To clear space for something better.”
Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain


Reading Progress

07/28/2009 page 8
1.78%
01/02/2011 page 1
0.0% "Time for the annual re-read."
02/06/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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message 1: by Felice (new)

Felice Excellent review!


Amanda Felice wrote: "Excellent review!"

Thanks! Cold Mountain is a slow read, but well worth the effort.


message 3: by Nancy (new)

Nancy I saw the film a while ago and don't remember much of it other than it was long and rather slow, but your excellent review makes me think I should try the book.


Amanda Actually, the first time I saw the film, I hated it. After going back and reading the book, I watched the movie again and enjoyed it much more as so much was put into context. I think the movie suffered from some pretty terrible casting. Jude Law and Nicole Kidman are excellent actors, but they just weren't the Inman and Ada I pictured in my head after reading the novel.


message 5: by Nancy (new)

Nancy If you didn't like the film, what made you want to read the book? I agree with you about the casting. The roles didn't suit these actors well at all. Nicole Kidman was great in The Others


message 6: by Amanda (last edited Jan 16, 2011 02:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amanda Like most bibliophiles, I bought the book before the movie version was made but I just hadn't gotten around to reading it. Since I had already seen and disliked the movie, I decided to start it one day just so I could officially cross it off the "to read" list and toss it in the donate pile, but was immediately sucked in. Thanks to my compulsive buying, I probably have enough books stockpiled in my house to keep me reading for the next 5 years. I plan on reading through the collapse of civilizaton.


message 7: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Only 5 years? I'm good for 10 at least. :)


Stephanie we just had a BIG move, and I ended up getting rid of maybe a dozen boxes of books beforehand, to make more room, just in case.. which I hated, but thought I had no choice. most of the books are at a resale store about 25 miles away, easily visited.. and, I have over $100 in store credit there, as well. GO, ME!! lol, time to get another bookshelf... ;)


Amanda My husband has built 3 bookshelves for me and I've had to promise no more until we get a bigger house. Each time, I had them filled as soon as they were finished!


Kristen Gurri Having hiked in the Cold Mountain area, Frazier got the landscape and the feel spot on. Love this book. It's one of the few that holds up for a reread.


Amanda Kristen wrote: "Having hiked in the Cold Mountain area, Frazier got the landscape and the feel spot on. Love this book. It's one of the few that holds up for a reread."

I re-read this every year for the AP English class that I teach and, fortunately, I haven't tired of it yet!


Daniele excellent review. Thanks. I agree.


Amanda Thank you for the kind compliment.


param Amanda, Loved your review. I was conflicted about the ending, but couldn't have said it better: "the ending was the only possible one offered in a world consumed by war". Spot on.


Amanda param wrote: "Amanda, Loved your review. I was conflicted about the ending, but couldn't have said it better: "the ending was the only possible one offered in a world consumed by war". Spot on."

Thanks! At first I was disappointed in the ending as it was not at all what I expected or wanted to happen, but after thinking about it I decided it was the only one that could lead to an authentic redemption.


Cjhays Excellent review. I, too, read and loved both journeys in the book, and completely agree with your assessment of the end. However, I must admit that it took me awhile to come to that conclusion! My first reaction was to slam the book shut, and rather loudly utter, "Son of a Bi$&h!! :(. The funny thing is, much as I loved Cold Mountain, I read it years before the movie came out. I remember thinking all through the movie,...SPOILER ALERT..."So, does he make it home or not?" I suppose I had repressed it from my mind. Hah! The same moment as described above as I'm leaving the theater! :)


Linze Excellent review. This book is breathtaking and you summed up my words!!!!


Amanda Linze wrote: "Excellent review. This book is breathtaking and you summed up my words!!!!"

I've re-read the book several times and I never tire of it. I think that's definitely a testament to how masterful Frazier is. I'm glad you enjoyed it!


message 19: by Skip (new)

Skip I found the first 100 pages painful, but ended up really liking the book. You wrote a great review.


Amanda Skip wrote: "I found the first 100 pages painful, but ended up really liking the book. You wrote a great review."

Thanks! Yes, it certainly crawls along, doesn't it? But in the end I thought it helped effectively mirror what I saw as the difficulty of Inman's spiritual journey. Still, it was undeniably slow.


message 21: by Barb (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barb Very much like your review. I listened to the audio version, which is around 14 hrs long, narrated by Frazier himself. It took him 7 years to write it, sometimes no more than a paragraph a day, according to an interview he once gave with PBS. A very painstakingly beautifully written, unforgettable book.


Amanda Barb wrote: "Very much like your review. I listened to the audio version, which is around 14 hrs long, narrated by Frazier himself. It took him 7 years to write it, sometimes no more than a paragraph a day, acc..."

7 years? One has to admire that level of dedication to a story well told. I didn't know he narrated the audio version--I'll have to check that out as I always enjoy listening to an author read his own story. Thank you for the kind compliment regarding my review.


Ninette Read this book a couple years ago as part of that year's syllabus for the literature group I've belonged to since 2007. The year we read Cold Mountain, the theme was "pairings" -- classics and more recent books influenced by those classics. There were actually three books connected for this segment -- Simon Armitage's excellent and entertaining retelling of The Odyssey, Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad (Odyssey from Penelope's pov), then Cold Mountain. Cold Mountain was one of my favorite books from all the years' selections in this group.


message 24: by Amanda (last edited Jan 19, 2014 12:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amanda Ninette wrote: "Read this book a couple years ago as part of that year's syllabus for the literature group I've belonged to since 2007. The year we read Cold Mountain, the theme was "pairings" -- classics and more..."

What a unique approach to reading literature! I have The Penelopiad, but, sadly, haven't gotten around to it yet. I haven't heard of Simon Armitage's version of The Odyssey, so I'll definitely have to look into that. Cold Mountain continues to be one of my all time favorites.


message 25: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa M. Please, please read The Penelopiad. It is a beautiful, beautiful book!


Amanda Lisa wrote: "Please, please read The Penelopiad. It is a beautiful, beautiful book!"

With such an enthusiastic recommendation, I'll have to bump it up on the "to read" list!


message 27: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa M. I hope you enjoy it! I like Margaret Atwood's short fiction/prose poetry the most, but this is an exception for me. I will admit I haven't read it in a few years, but I really enjoyed it when I did - I even reread it, which I didn't do back then. Enjoy, and thanks for the great reviews - I always like reading them!


Casey I agree with you, one of the most beautiful books ever. I didn't find it boring at all as some others have said, but hey, that's me.


Tamara Holmes Great review! One of those rare books I can "loose" myself in over and over again. I like the movie too when I want a short visit to Cold Mountain. I saw the movie before I bought the book. To me the ending is almost like a modernised "Romeo and Juilet" even though the echo of reality is tragic, I love it that way.


message 30: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Great review. I think you got it spot on. I took my time to read it through; savoured every paragraph. Listened to a podcast via the Guardian Book Club where Frazier discusses his ending - very interesting!


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