National Book Award, Fiction, 1997One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain is a masterpiece that is at once an enthralling adventure, a stirring love story, and a luminous evocation of a vanished America in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.
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 three 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. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic American Odyssey: hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.
Winner of the 1997 National Book Award.
©1997 Charles Frazier; (P)1998 Random House, Inc., Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Charles Frazier delivers a soulful reading of his novel....His writing reveals the fluidity of a storyteller, and the audiobook becomes a natural extension of his skill." (AudioFile)
"Charles Frazier has taken on a daunting task, and has done extraordinarily well by it....A Whitmanesque foray into America; into its hugeness, its freshness, its scope and its soul. Such a memorable book." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A rare and extraordinary book....Heart-stopping....Spellbinding." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Novelists are never in short supply. Natural-born storytellers come along only rarely. Charles Frazier joins the ranks of that elite cadre on the first page of his astonishing debut." (Newsweek)
It has been at least two years since I listened to this book, but I am still moved by my memories of it. To be honest, as a fast moving Yankee, I found the narration by Charles Frasier to be almost painful in its slow moving pace. However, after giving it some time, I realized that there was no better reader for this novel. Mr. Frasier is a Southerner, and his rendition puts the reader into the genuine feel of the time and emotion of the novel. I wept, rejoiced, and was swept away by the story. I have actually delayed my viewing of the film based on the novel b/c I feel it can only dissappoint. As it has several Oscar nominatons, I probably should get over this feeling, but it IS a novel that will remain in your heart and memory.
Sometimes you just need to hear an author read their own words to get the full impact of their work. The writer can sometimes deliver nuance, emphasis, or dialect that you might not hear in your head. Charles Frazier's understated delivery may not be dramatic, but it accumulates force through the persistent rendering of the longing for home that pushes the hero through unendurable trials as he tries to make his way back from the horror of the Civil War. A beautiful book read with patience and passion - so much better than the movie!
I usually don?t go back to re-read reviews - but I was looking for another book to read and since I loved this book and fell in love with Charles Fraziers voice - soft and southern. I thought I would see if he has done any other work.
I saw people saying he didn?t do a good job, I wholeheartedly disagree - I love his voice and would love to hear anything else he chooses to read.
It has been 6 years or so since I read this book, shortly after it was 1st published. Never having been a fan of James Joyce's "Ulysess", at the time I thought it might be the best novel of the 20th century. Now after hearing its author read it I?m even more convinced that it is one of the great works of literature. Poetic in the manner of the romantic poets, such as Wordsworth, who I love. The language is inexpressibly beautiful. There are no weak parts. The observations on human nature and the human condition are timeless, and strikingly put. The metaphors are often southern or related to farm or outdoor life, and for this reason they may limit the book?s appeal. For myself, being both southern and an outdoor type, it is a book I shall want to read or listen to again and again. I have seen the movie, which recently came out. The movie was excellent. Very well made, well acted, well cast, well done in every detail. But the movie cannot bear comparison to the book because the strength of the book is in the poetic power of its language rather than in the story or plot line, even rather than in its characterizations. How could you make a movie to convey the poetic power of ?Tintern Abbey?? You cannot. The same with Cold Mountain. You can tell the story, tell it well, but miss all the power and glory of the book. Like poetry, it is meant to be read again and again, and is meant to be read aloud. Charles Frazier's voice and pace are exactly right. The reading could not be any better.
The book speaks well to both the end of civil war era and as a modern parable for today. If we think our war veterans come home today the same people who left, we are mistaken. The two main criticisms I have heard don't hold water with me. First, I hear the romance isn't realistic. For him, it most certainly would be since he had been snatched out of his normal life to go and fight. He would yearn for that one relationship that meant most back home as it would represent so much to him of what he lost. For her, with the circumstances the way they were, the same can be said. Second, people complain about Frazier's voice as a narrator. While true that many audio books are read by professional narrators, Frazier's voice adds a sense that Inman himself is reading this (there was a real Inman whom Frazier is a descendent). I think it is a regional thing too. Frazier sounds like he's from North Carolina (which he is). It adds a added sense of realism. I'm sorry it doesn't work for everyone. Kudos galore. One of my favorites.
This Audible recording was my first exposure to Cold Mountain. I haven?t seen the movie, but it is difficult to imagine that it has the same power to create ?lasting memories.? Our tragic tale is woven from two parallel tellings of the latter days of the Civil War: the survival of a well-borne southern girl left to fend on a rural farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a young Confederate soldier who abandons the war to journey back to his mountain home and sweetheart. While reunion of these not-quite lovers is the obvious cause for Inman?s odyssey, this is not a love story. If you?re expecting a highbrow Harlequin fantasy, you may be disappointed. The gift of Ada?s tale is our rediscovery of an ancient way of life where sustenance is ensured only by blisters, lore and an appreciation of the natural world. Inman?s tale is far darker: full of the savagery within and without. At times, Death and Evil are brought so near we can feel their chill, smell their breath. Unforgettable.
As others have noted, the author reads his novel. The operative word here is ?reads?; not to be confused with ?interprets,? the performance we expect from our favorite professional readers. Even so, the authenticity of the accent can?t be denied and Frazier?s voice is pleasant and it's cadence relaxed. Very pleasant and relaxed. I found myself losing consciousness from time to time. That may be why I never understood the icy cruelty of the ?home guard? or even how, exactly, the story ends. I?m looking forward to listening to the book again in the near future. No doubt I?ll know then.
A masterfully-written story that transports you to a different time and place. The characters are compelling, as are the challenges they face. I loved reading it in print, and decided to return to it in this recording, read by the author. I was not disappointed--even better the second time through. One of my favorite books.
I have been listening to audiobooks for about 25 years, and I have no qualms in identifying this one as my all time favorite. The story is masterfully written and narrated. I first heard it during a road trip with my wife in which we frequently sat in the parked car listening to the audiobook rather than exploring the tourist sites which were the ostensible reason for our trip.
I'm not usually one to watch the film first, however, in my defence, I had never planned on reading the book. In the end I enjoyed the film so much I couldn't wait to read the book as I expected it be even more enjoyable. Not the case. The film was very faithful to the overall story and even more dramatic and (dare I say, romantic) than the book was. While I didn't dislike the book, reading it didn't add anything to my overall experience of the film. This is one instance where watching the film was actually more enjoyable.
Great book. Dismal reading. In fact, the worst _reading_ of a book I've heard. Some good friend should have told Charles Frazier to stick to writing and let a professional narrator do the reading. I gave it three stars as a compromise. The text gets five stars; the reading one. If listening is your only way to get to this book, then have at it, but expect your reaction to be conflicted.
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