3 journalers for this copy...
The story begins near the end of the Civil War as Inman, a Confederate soldier, recuperates from his wounds and reflects on four years of ferocious fighting. Soon, he realizes that he will be sent back to fight some more. Overcome by that thought, he dreams of home instead. He sneaks out of the hospital through a window and begins a long, difficult trek home.
At the same time, Ada, his love from before the war, has just lost her father in the hill country in the Smokies. Brought up as an educated lady to her minister father in Charleston, she is unprepared to fend for herself. Soon befriended by Ruby, she begins the unremitting toil to get her farm working again without the proper help, resources and training. Those who have read Gone With the Wind will recognize many parallels to Scarlett O'Hara's situation at Tara after her father dies.
The novel interweaves Inman's and Ada's stories as they move towards a reunion on Cold Mountain. Inman is in constant danger as a deserter, and finds the going hard at a time when the local militia units are actively hunting down criminals and deserters. The losses in the war are also causing a general breakdown in civility among Southerners and through depredations from Federal troops. The episodes are reminiscent of the time on the raft in Huckleberry Finn for their raw display of the best and worst qualities of humanity. I was also reminded of Dante's Inferno.
One of the great strengths of the novel is that the ultimate reunion of Ada and Inman is handled in a thoughtful and in many ways, unexpected, manner. This brilliant sequence allows the book to ascend to a higher plane of meaning for the reader. In this context, all will recognize that this book is more about the primacy of human connection through family, friendship, and humane acts . . . than the love of a man and woman for each other.
This book is best savored repeatedly, like the memory of a wonderfully crisp fall afternoon as the vibrantly colored leaves are silhouetted by the azure sky as they gently drop to the dewy green grass.
Many readers will draw parallels from this book to Homer's Odyssey. I found Cold Mountain more compelling than The Odyssey because of its structure. Odysseus was returning from winning the Trojan Wars. Coming home early from the losing side puts a much different tone on the story for Inman. He has to worry about surviving in many dimensions, not just getting home for a joyous celebration. He also doesn't know what home holds for him. That structural difference is profound for the tone it sets for the long, difficult journey home. I found that such an odyssey has more meaning when one has fewer expectations, more problems, and greater heartache. Ada's story is also much more interesting than the home aspects of The Odyssey, where the main challenge was to keep the suitors away. Ada is in full survival mode, by comparison.
After you have read this wonderful story, let me suggest that you take another classic (you could even pick The Iliad) and consider how it could be restructured into a story that would move you more. Feel free to change the characters, the setting, and the action. Then, share your story with someone you love. Before the days of radio, that was a primary way that families drew closer. It still can be.
Released 12 yrs ago (10/10/2008 UTC) at
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
posting out to Weebly for her book group read. Hope you enjoy it, I couldn't get into it, so abandoned it halfway through :-(
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Left in the cafe area when I was attending a ladies networking event.