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That is not to say that Frazier wastes the reader's time or goes off on unnecessary tangents althou Cold Mountain is quite possibly the most beautiful book that I've ever read. 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.

Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan | An Excerpt from The Complete Cold Mountain

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.

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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.


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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 View all 31 comments. Inman not as heroic as Odysseus , an army deserter wounded in the American Civil War, faces a treacherous, interminable journey home to his love, Ada i. You can see from my five-star "Be strong, saith my heart; I am a soldier; I have seen worse sights than this. You can see from my five-star rating that I was captivated by this book, but it could just have easily been demoted to three stars as it was very nearly hoisted by a petard of its own poetic prose.

Why, Charles Frazier?

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

They were evidently good enough for Dickens, Hugo and Dostoyevsky, yet you didn't feel the need, now did you? Yes, the enlightened readers among us can get by without them but, applying the same logic, why even bother with commas and full stops? Bloody vowels, making words much longer than they need to be! Gripe 2 More than most, I drool over a banquet of sumptuous prose. Frazier writes beautifully and songbirds landed on my shoulders while I read, rather like a dreamy scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

All, it seemed, was perfectly spiffing in my world. But holy pretentiousness, Batman! The high calibre prose, though meritorious, did quicksand the pace of my read and severely detracted from the narrative thrust of the story. So, how about that nice cup of tea The story, despite my two gripes, is a towering, modern-day epic worthy of the utmost praise.

Evocative and monumental, it carries weighty themes of love, resilience, honour and devotion with great aplomb.

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View all 74 comments. Jun 25, Luthien rated it did not like it Recommends it for: No one. Considering the widespread acclaim this book and its subsequent film adaptation have received, I'm reluctant to write a negative review. Still, a dissenting opinion at least makes for an interesting read. This was absolutely the most boring book I have ever read. It took me about a year to finish it, because every time I tried to pick it up, day or night, I was asleep in minutes. Though the descriptions of the picturesque mountainous landscape are often beautiful, I fail to see the point.

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I can' Considering the widespread acclaim this book and its subsequent film adaptation have received, I'm reluctant to write a negative review. I can't understand why the lovers at the center of the plot even like eachother, and in general I find the characters' motivation for doing anything completely inexplicable.

I don't wish to spoil the story such as it is for any would be readers, so I'll refrain from posting plot details. Suffice it to say that the entire plot hinges on a series of events that conveniently take place, but seem to have no basis in reality. Why, for example, did the protagonist undertake his long journey in the first place?


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This is, to my mind, never made adequately clear. Consequently, instead of rooting for the characters, I end up thinking, "What a bunch of morons! View all 52 comments. Oct 25, Will Byrnes rated it it was ok. Did not like it. Although it has an interesting structure and pretext, it is so intellectualized that it is hard to care about the characters at all. It seems like Frazier is more interested in showing off than in writing a gripping work of fiction.

enter View all 30 comments. How long would you wait for your lover, if you knew not whether they were alive, and you yourself had changed almost beyond recognition? This is a beautiful, understated, unsentimental Odyssey of quiet longing, endurance, and transformation. It's no coincidence that Inman's treasured book is a travel book whereas Ruby "held a deep distrust of travel", even to the shops. Times are tough, but at least Ada and Inman have confidence in who and what it is they yearn for.

Each of Inman's chapters involves a dramatic encounter, good or bad, that sheds light on his character, as well as the trials of war and wilderness. Ada is 26, orphaned, nearly destitute, and trying to cope with a little land, but no staff or skill. The varying tempo works well.

Both Inman and Ada cultivate the art of really seeing: Inman is ever watchful, noticing every little sign in nature or people's behaviour that may signal danger a shadow behind leaves, a blade hidden in a hairdo ; Ada learns to see the signs of seasons, weather, harvest, birds, and animals. The language is sometimes a little archaic, as it should be. Quotation marks are not used, but I didn't really feel their absence: dialog is usually prefaced with a long dash. Civil War Although the backdrop is the American civil war, I didn't feel hampered by my relative lack of knowledge of US history.

There was enough background detail to picture daily life, but the politics and the war were external to the characters, and hence to me as a reader. Right and Wrong; Revenge and Forgiveness Inman is a deserter: badly injured, but a deserter none-the-less. He was never a natural killer, is haunted by what he's seen and done , and doesn't believe in the cause anyway, if he ever did. There are gangs wanting bounty for finding deserters, and desperate men who will kill for any reason and none.

Coupled with his inherently peaceful and forgiving nature, repeatedly put to the test, the risks are great. Pondering the story of a man born blind, Inman asks himself "What would be the cost of not having an enemy? Who could you strike for retribution other than yourself? He's certainly more forgiving than the disgraced preacher, Veasey. The Sustenance of Literature - and Music An unexpected pleasure was the underlying thread of the solace to be found in books. On the very first page, Inman is in military hospital "settling his mind" with a treasured copy of Travels of William Bartram.

Throughout the story, he returns to this book, in small snippets, at times of need. However, at the end of the day, reading aloud is a pleasure and a bonding experience for her and Ruby. We glimpse the privilege of opening someone's eyes to the joys of powerful stories. Another, seemingly irredeemable, character finds salvation in music, starting off with a handful of standard fiddle tunes, but making his own instruments and composing a large repertoire of moving pieces. She comes to help Ada, not quite as a servant, not - initially - as a friend, let alone equal, but Ruby takes charge of instructing in the sense of educating Ada and even telling her what, when, and how to do.

There are moments when view spoiler [you wonder how far Ada and Ruby's friendship will go: when Ruby puts Ada's bracelet on her own wrist - but then puts it back again; when Ada slips a ring on Ruby's finger - which Ruby takes off. The latter is just after Inman has returned, and Ruby has said "We can do without him There's not a thing we can't do ourselves. Inman draws strength from his devotion to and memories of Ada. He occasionally looks at other women water is a recurring theme , but it's all very chaste. Nature Names There is mythical power in names. Ada's education was academic and theoretical: she knows the names of almost none of the plants and animals, and that is part of her helplessness in her new situation.

In contrast, Ruby has an encyclopaedic knowledge of such things, and thus she takes the lead in survival. Ruby is also guided by signs that Ada's preacher father, Monroe, would have dismissed as superstition. Ada "chose to view the signs as metaphoric But a hundred pages later, she writes to her cousin in Charleston about how field work has changed her, "Should a crow fly over I mark it in all its details, but I do not seek analogy for its blackness I suspect it is somehow akin to contentment.

The Ending and the Epilogue Twenty pages from the end, it was so tender and understated and perfect that I had to pause. I was sure it would end badly, and I couldn't bear it. He finds her, dressed like a man, hunting turkeys, rather than in the fine skirts he'd remembered.

She doesn't recognise him, so he apologies and walks away. When she does recognise him by his voice , there are no dramas, just tentative steps towards an unknown present and even less certain future. But eventually they talk, "to rewrite even a shard of the past" as lover do "before they can move forward paired". Eventually, "The world was such a lonely place, and to lie down beside him, skin to skin, seemed the only cure.

Inman is shot by Teague's gang.