Charles Frazier’s beautifully told Civil War drama deals with tragedy, hardship, and enduring love. It takes an unflinching look at the worst events in human history and people’s worst inclinations in desperate times. More than a simple war story, Cold Mountain owes credit to The Odyssey, as Inman, the protagonist, spends years trying to get back to his home and his lover, Ida. The book does this, all while exploring the more serious, transformative effects of trauma, or PTSD, as Inman struggles to maintain his sense of morality and his sense of self long after the sounds of gunfire have subsided.
Cold Mountain is a strange book for me to review. As an author, I am astounded by Frazier’s mastery of language. This is the kind of literature I aspire to emulate in my own writing, despite the fact that stylistic prose, particularly in genre fiction, is largely frowned upon these days. Cold Mountain was also a great source of inspiration for my upcoming novella, The Feral Girl, and I will admit to keeping my notepad open in order to frequently update my personal dictionary. That being said, the story isn’t quite as fast paced as some readers might prefer, and much of the conflict, the battles and the romance, are often only subtly explored, which is why it may not rank as high for other reviewers. But for those of you who appreciate the written word for its own sake, Frazier’s book is a masterpiece that should not be missed.