by Charles Fraiser
Random House (1997)
Reviewed by Anna Navin, January 16, 2006
Cold Mountain is a Civil War story, a story of Inman, a wounded Southern soldier, and his decision to leave the war and walk home to Cold Mountain and Ada, the girl he fell in love with four years before.
Written in alternating chapters, one depicting the journey of Inman, the next the struggles of Ada, as she and a new-found friend attempt to survive on the farm left to Ada after the death of her father. It makes the reader speculate as to whether the alternating chapters are meant to cover the same period of time in the lives of these two people. If one wished to read the story of Inman to the end of his journey, they could read every other chapter; and likewise the story of Ada.
Charles Frasier writes in great descriptive detail the world surrounding each of the book's main characters. Each mountain, tree covered hill, wild life, snow or rain fall, even growth of crops, brings a clear picture to the reader's mind.
The characters Inman meets in his months-long walk are varied and in different ways have an effect on him, whether through kindness or animosity. Ada, raised by a doting father in a life of privilege, too is changed by the life into which she has been thrust. Her helpmate is Ruby, whose life growing up could not have been different from Ada's. Left to fend for herself from a very young age, she gives Ada the knowledge, courage and strength needed to make a life for herself in a world completely alien to her.
I did not find this a fast read, but one I could not ‘skim' for fear of losing important details of the story. It has also been made into a movie.