Book Review: Cold Mountain

Now this book took me quite a while to get through, not just because I had a lot of other books I was reading at the time, but because I couldn’t stomach most of the pain that the soldiers went through during the Civil War. The depictions of violence are graphic because the author, Charles Frazier, wanted readers to see how awful this war was. While of course the love story between a soldier named Inman and a preacher’s daughter named Ada, who used to be his love before the war, while reading this book I was mainly focused on how messed up the war was and the psychological, emotional and physical damage it did to not just the soldiers fighting in the war, but also those family and friends of soldiers that the war affected. Also how people had to survive at that time makes me feel incredibly spoiled to have access to grocery stores, to schools, to three square meals a day, not to mention the fact that I can eat vegan and feel full. Back in the day you couldn’t eat vegan if you were trying to just survive in the South during that time. I felt like I was reading the book version of The Revenant (I haven’t seen that movie, but from the trailer I know it’s about survival).

This book reminded me of Tim O’Brien’s short story collection The Things They Carried because even though his book and Frazier’s Cold Mountain are set during different wars (The Things They Carried takes place during the Vietnam War) the depictions of war are so vivid and brutal to read about and stomach. But that’s why these kinds of books exist, to show us how war can tear people apart. I don’t remember much about the book in detail because I read it over a span of days and didn’t take notes while reading it, but all I know is that I had to take breaks and stop reading because of the horrors that Inman and his fellow soldiers endured at that time. It’s one thing to learn about it in school because while they teach how bad the Civil War was, reading a novel like Cold Mountain serves as a grim reminder of how war messes people up. Frazier’s language captures both the grimness of war and the beauty of love, and this language is what kept me reading even when I didn’t think I could handle the rest of the book. I actually found out about this book a long time ago, and put it on my list of books to read, but yet again, like many other books, I didn’t get around to it (I was also much too young to read it. Now that I’m older I was slightly able to handle the novel’s mature content more). But I finally decided to read it because I had put it off for a long time. Hopefully the book is just as good as the film, although after reading the novel I don’t know if I can stomach the film. Overall, excellent novel.

Cold Mountain. 1997. Charles Frazier. 358 pp.

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