10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Some Books Just Make You Happy,
This review is from: Cold Mountain (Paperback)
Charles Frazier has certainly set himself a mammoth task if his second novel is to live up to this his first. The copy I have of Cold Mountain has “magnificent” on the cover and I for one found it just that. It is a model of evenly paced prose and there is never a hint of overblown picture painting that might tempt a lesser writer, in an attempt to bring the landscape to the page. This is a book I shall read again and again: the feel-good is there in abundance.
The story made up of a split narrative between a wounded soldier walking home from the horrors of the American Civil War and a young woman trying to learn the practicalities of self-sufficiency after the death of her father and the loss of her wealth; is the basic framework for a multitude of tales told by characters met on this journey of quest. This makes it reminiscent of Don Quixote and Frazier temporarily provides the main character with a Sancho Panza along the way.
For me it is the power of the female characters that is so pleasing; and the girl Ruby is warm and earthy. She speaks her kindness by her actions and not by her words; and really is the spirit of mother earth, which pervades the whole book. The landscape is feminine and benevolent and the women in it are the channels for that generous spirit.
No one is turned away hungry, no one is left unsheltered. This is a new-age view of landscape and environment; and one that is very cheering.
Frazier’s men are generally a problem. Either they are the hunter or the hunted, the desperate or the dissolute. Death in the form of a character called Teague haunts every forest and byway, he stalks every man in the book. While the women are fonts of comfort and sustenance but above all practical wisdom.
To me the whole of the book was symbolic of life as a journey, on which we meet kindness and trickery; and are menaced by death, which we may escape arbitrarily, while others do not. A journey sustained by an ideal that we may never attain or fulfil but which drives us on. In the book it is the love of a woman and the hope of home.
From the beginning to the end I found it a very uplifting read but no great tale should end without redemption; and this great tale does not disappoint. Yes, truly magnificent.