Title: Cold Mountain
Author: Charles Frazier
Source: Personal library
Summary (From back of book):
Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, Inman, a Confederate soldier, decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and to Ada, the woman he loved there years before. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, Ada is trying to revive her father's derelict farm and learn to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away.
My Two Cents:
I really like fiction set during the Civil War. In school, studying the 1860s always was one of my favorite things in history classes, so it would make sense that I enjoy fiction set during that era, even though I haven't read a lot of fiction set during this period.
One of my favorite things about this book was how the narration flips between the experiences of Inman as he attempts to return home from the war and Ada, who is trying to care for her father's failing farm. The dual narrative gave both perspectives of the war (Even though we hardly had any actual battle narration), so it wasn't all war and it wasn't all the struggle to survive. I liked that we got to see both sides of the experience.
I really liked all the main characters, too. It's not often that I like even the unsavory characters, like Stobrod, but even he had his fiddling obsession that kind of endeared him to me. At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like Ada. She seemed like nothing more than a damsel in distress who just kind of said, "Well, I don't know how to do any of this stuff around the farm, and I'm not really going to try." But, when Ruby comes along, Ada changes drastically and I really grew to like her.
My favorite parts of this book were Inman's interactions with various types of people in his travels. No matter what was doled out to him, he didn't become overly vicious or greedy; he simply treated people the way they treated him and he went out of his way to help those who needed the extra assistance. I also thought seeing the imagined experiences of people on the fringes of society added to the richness of the ambiance set out in this book.
I realize I'm probably about the last person on the planet to have read this book (And I haven't seen the movie, either!), but if there's someone out there who likes historical fiction and really interesting narratives who hasn't read this novel yet, give it a try.