Cover image for Book Club kit : Cold mountain
Title:
Book Club kit : Cold mountain
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c1997.
ISBN:
9780871136794
Physical Description:
8 biks. (356 p.) ; 24 cm. + 1 discussion guide
Language:
English
General Note:
Map of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains on endpapers.
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Available:*

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Book Club Kit BOOK CLUB 1 .CIRCNOTE. *****8 BOOKS, 1 DISCUSSION GUIDE*****
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Summary

Summary

Cold Mountain is an extraordinary novel about a soldier's perilous journey back to his beloved at the end of the Civil War. At once a magnificent love story and a harrowing account of one man's long walk home, Cold Mountain introduces a stunning new talent in American literature.

Based on local history and family stories passed down by the author's great-great-grandfather, Cold Mountain is the tale of a wounded soldier, Inman, who walks away from the ravages of the war and back home to his prewar sweetheart, Ada. Inman's odyssey through the devastated landscape of the soon-to-be-defeated South interweaves with Ada's struggle to revive her father's farm, with the help of an intrepid young drifter named Ruby. As their long-separated lives begin to converge at the close of the war, Inman and Ada confront the vastly transformed world they've been delivered.

Charles Frazier reveals marked insight into man's relationship to the land and the dangers of solitude. He also shares with the great nineteenth century novelists a keen observation of a society undergoing change. Cold Mountain re-creates a world gone by that speaks eloquently to our time.


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Rich in evocative physical detail and timeless human insight, this debut novel set in the Civil War era rural South considers themes both grand (humanity's place in nature) and intimate (a love affair transformed by the war) as a wounded soldier makes his way home to the highlands of North Carolina and to his prewar sweetheart. Shot in the neck during fighting at Petersburg, Inman was not expected to survive. After regaining the strength to walk, he begins his dangerous odyssey. Just as the traumas of life on the battlefront have changed Inman, the war's new social and economic conditions have left their mark on Ada. With the death of her father and loss of income from his investments, Ada can no longer remain a pampered Charleston lady but must eke out a living from her father's farm in the Cold Mountain community, where she is an outsider. Frazier vividly depicts the rough and varied terrain of Inman's travels and the colorful characters he meets, all the while avoiding Federal raiders and the equally brutal Home Guard. The sweeping cycle of Inman's homeward journey is deftly balanced by Ada's growing sense of herself and her connection to the natural world around the farm. In a leisurely, literate narrative, Frazier shows how lives of soldiers and of civilians alike deepen and are transformed as a direct consequence of the war's tragedy. There is quiet drama in the tensions that unfold as Inman and Ada come ever closer to reunion, yet farther from their former selves. BOMC and QPB selections; paperback rights to Vintage; rights sold in Germany, the U.K. and France; film rights sold to Lynne Pleshette. (June) FYI: Frazier's great-great-grandfather was the source of this story about a Civil War soldier who deserted and walked home. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

The Civil War's last months are the setting for this first novel by Frazier, erstwhile college teacher and author of travel books and stories. Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier, leaves the hospital before his gashed neck heals enough to get him sent back to war. Still weak, he heads for the mountains, where a minister's daughter named Ada is his objective. Inman's return could hardly be timelier for the Charleston-raised Ada: her father has died, and she finds she knows little about operating a farm. Frazier blends the story of Inman's journey with that of Ada's efforts, with the help of a drifter named Ruby, to wring a subsistence living from the neglected land; in the background are the yelping dogs of war (most dramatically, gangs chasing Confederate deserters like Inman), as well as hints of changes the end of war will bring. Cold Mountain, based on a Frazier family story, is a satisfying read, though for some readers elements of the story (e.g., Ada's dependence) are anachronistic. --Mary Carroll


School Library Journal Review

A Civil War soldier and a lonely woman embark on parallel journeys of danger and discovery. Environment, events, and the empathy of others transform the protagonists spiritually as well as physically. (Nov.) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Guardian Review

Rare are the novels chosen for the Guardian book club that have not been adapted for cinema or television - and rare the reader who feels that justice has been done on the screen to a favourite work of fiction. So when Charles Frazier was asked about the star-studded film adaptation of Cold Mountain it was easy to infer the disappointment of a questioner who had loved the book. Often an author speaking to the book club has come close to disowning the film version of his or her novel. Frazier, however, disarmed sceptics in the audience by describing director Anthony Minghella's fierce attachment to the novel - and his determination to be true to its non-Hollywood ending. Frazier quoted him as saying, while driving around North Carolina looking for locations, "If you don't like the film, I shall not consider it a success." Frazier shared in Minghella's search for places to film certain scenes, repeating a process undertaken when he wrote the book. Replying to a reader who had asked whether he had actually tramped the route that Inman took, he explained how he would visit places that he could use, with a notebook, and record an exact description. Once a location was found, he would literally place his action into it. He spoke of finding "locations" in just the same way that a film-maker might. The sense of locality that is so exactly measured in the novel was behind much of the discussion. How could it be otherwise, when we were listening to the author's soft and distinctive Carolina drawl? Several readers wanted to know about the factual basis of the novel. "Could the goat woman have existed?" asked one, thinking of the extraordinary episode in which Inman is sustained by an old woman, who lives in a wagon with her goats in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. Frazier said that as a boy in North Carolina, he had encountered a "goat man", who travelled the byways of the south in a cart drawn by goats, selling religious pamphlets. When one reader suggested that the most significant circumstantial details were the many descriptions of the weather, the author agreed, telling us that he had scoured a journal written in the 1860s by travellers in the Carolinas. "They wrote about the weather every day." Similarly, his characters in Cold Mountain - whether Inman tramping home, or Ada scratching her living from her farm - are always conscious of the weather. Listening to Frazier's recollections of writing the book, one member of the audience wondered at the "total absorption" in the imagined lives of this invented people. "How do you regain the 21st century?" He made the business of composition sound more like obsessive saturation than plotting or planning. Hearing how he had worked, a reader wondered whether his writing was a "linear process" (following the progress of the narrative as it unfolded) or whether he wrote scenes whose ordering he left until later. It was a shrewd inquiry: Frazier told us that, knowing just the overall shape of his narrative, he wrote its scenes in no particular order. Some of the episodes near the end of the book were among the first that he wrote. He did not recommend his modus operandi to aspiring novelists: "It's a totally inefficient, totally frustrating process." Cold Mountain is a violent book, and a couple of readers wanted to justify this almost more than the author did. "To me Inman is an incredibly moral character," said one, though part of his argument - "when he kills people he always has a good reason for it" - did not seem to convince everyone. It is true that, near the end of the novel, Frazier's protagonist puts himself at risk by sparing a boy who is one of a party trying to kill him. But the author was more sceptical, wondering at the "excessive violence" and pointing out places in the novel where he had done more than he needed to do to survive. "Why do you think that this novel was - and is - so successful"? asked one member of the audience. She was prompted partly by Frazier's own surprise at its popularity, but also by some of the "literary" qualities of the book: its slowness, its imitation of local speech patterns, its unconsoling vision of human nature. It did not seem a novel calculated for a mass market. Was it somehow matched to its times, the questioner asked. The author wondered aloud about this - whether he had accidentally used his historical invention to explore some 1990s zeitgeist - but could not quite see it. He had a more pragmatic suggestion: when his novel was first published, every American city still had a newspaper with its own books page. There had been a range of critical voices and reader responses that, 10 years later, no longer existed. Literary opinion in the US has become, quite literally, "syndicated". If Cold Mountain were published now, perhaps it would no longer have the same chance to attract readers. John Mullan is professor of English at University College London. Next week he will be looking at One Day by David Nicholls. - John Mullan Listening to [Charles Frazier]'s recollections of writing the book, one member of the audience wondered at the "total absorption" in the imagined lives of this invented people. "How do you regain the 21st century?" He made the business of composition sound more like obsessive saturation than plotting or planning. Hearing how he had worked, a reader wondered whether his writing was a "linear process" (following the progress of the narrative as it unfolded) or whether he wrote scenes whose ordering he left until later. It was a shrewd inquiry: Frazier told us that, knowing just the overall shape of his narrative, he wrote its scenes in no particular order. Some of the episodes near the end of the book were among the first that he wrote. He did not recommend his modus operandi to aspiring novelists: "It's a totally inefficient, totally frustrating process." - John Mullan.


Kirkus Review

A grim story about a tough, resourceful Southern family in the Civil War is somewhat submerged by the weight of lyrical detail piled on the tale, and by the slow pace of the telling. There's no doubt that Frazier can write; the problem is that he stops so often to savor the sheer pleasure of the act of writing in this debut effort. Inman, seeing that the end of the war is near, decides to leave his regiment and go back home to Ada, the bright, stubborn woman he loves. His adventures traversing a chaotic, impoverished land, Ada's struggles to preserve her father's farm, and the harsh, often powerful tales of the rough-hewn individuals they encounter take up most of the narrative. The tragic climax is convincing but somewhat rushed, given the many dilatory scenes that have preceded it. Frazier has Cormac McCarthy's gift for rendering the pitch and tang of regional speech, and for catching some of the true oddity of human nature, but he doesn't yet possess McCarthy's ferocious focus. A promising but overlong, uneven debut. (First printing of 40,000; author tour)


Library Journal Review

This monumental novel is set at the end of the Civil War and follows the journey of a wounded Confederate soldier named Inman as he returns home. Interwoven is the story of Ada, the woman he loves. Ada, who was raised in genteel society, cannot cope with the rigors of war until a woman called Ruby arrives to help her. Inman comes across memorable characters like the goatwoman, who lives off the secret herbs in the woods and Sara, a woman stranded with an infant who is assaulted by Yankee soldiers whom Inman later kills. After a long, threatening journey, Inman finally arrives home to Ada, "ravaged, worn ragged and wary and thin." His momentary homecoming, however, comes to a tragic end. A remarkable effort that opens up a historical past that will enrich readers not only with its story but with its strong characters. Highly recommended for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/97.]‘David A. Beronä, Univ. of New England, Biddeford, Me. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

the shadow of a crow At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring. Inman's eyes and the long wound at his neck drew them, and the sound of their wings and the touch of their feet were soon more potent than a yardful of roosters in rousing a man to wake. So he came to yet one more day in the hospital ward. He flapped the flies away with his hands and looked across the foot of his bed to an open triple-hung window. Ordinarily he could see to the red road and the oak tree and the low brick wall. And beyond them to a sweep of fields and flat piney woods that stretched to the western horizon. The view was a long one for the flatlands, the hospital having been built on the only swell within eyeshot. But it was too early yet for a vista. The window might as well have been painted grey. Had it not been too dim, Inman would have read to pass the time until breakfast, for the book he was reading had the effect of settling his mind. But he had burned up the last of his own candles reading to bring sleep the night before, and lamp oil was too scarce to be striking the hospital's lights for mere diversion. So he rose and dressed and sat in a ladderback chair, putting the gloomy room of beds and their broken occupants behind him. He flapped again at the flies and looked out the window at the first smear of foggy dawn and waited for the world to begin shaping up outside. The window was tall as a door, and he had imagined many times that it would open onto some other place and let him walk through and be there. During his first weeks in the hospital, he had been hardly able to move his head, and all that kept his mind occupied had been watching out the window and picturing the old green places he recollected from home. Childhood places. The damp creek bank where Indian pipes grew. The corner of a meadow favored by brown-and-black caterpillars in the fall. A hickory limb that overhung the lane, and from which he often watched his father driving cows down to the barn at dusk. They would pass underneath him, and then he would close his eyes and listen as the cupping sound of their hooves in the dirt grew fainter and fainter until it vanished into the calls of katydids and peepers. The window apparently wanted only to take his thoughts back. Which was fine with him, for he had seen the metal face of the age and had been so stunned by it that when he thought into the future, all he could vision was a world from which everything he counted important had been banished or had willingly fled. By now he had stared at the window all through a late summer so hot and wet that the air both day and night felt like breathing through a dishrag, so damp it caused fresh sheets to sour under him and tiny black mushrooms to grow overnight from the limp pages of the book on his bedside table. Inman suspected that after such long examination, the grey window had finally said about all it had to say. That morning, though, it surprised him, for it brought to mind a lost memory of sitting in school, a similar tall window beside him framing a scene of pastures and low green ridges terracing up to the vast hump of Cold Mountain. It was September. The hayfield beyond the beaten dirt of the school playground stood pant-waist high, and the heads of grasses were turning yellow from need of cutting. The teacher was a round little man, hairless and pink of face. He owned but one rusty black suit of clothes and a pair of old overlarge dress boots that curled up at the toes and were so worn down that the heels were wedgelike. He stood at the front of the room rocking on the points. He talked at length through the morning about history, teaching the older students of grand wars fought in ancient England. After a time of actively not listening, the young Inman had taken his hat from under the desk and held it by its brim. He flipped his wrist, and the hat skimmed out the window and caught an updraft and soared. It landed far out across the playground at the edge of the hayfield and rested there black as the shadow of a crow squatted on the ground. The teacher saw what Inman had done and told him to go get it and to come back and take his whipping. The man had a big paddleboard with holes augered in it, and he liked to use it. Inman never did know what seized him at that moment, but he stepped out the door and set the hat on his head at a dapper rake and walked away, never to return. The memory passed on as the light from the window rose toward day. The man in the bed next to Inman's sat and drew his crutches to him. As he did every morning, the man went to the window and spit repeatedly and with great effort until his clogged lungs were clear. He ran a comb through his black hair, which hung lank below his jaw and was cut square around. He tucked the long front pieces of hair behind his ears and put on his spectacles of smoked glass, which he wore even in the dim of morning, his eyes apparently too weak for the warmest form of light. Then, still in his nightshirt, he went to his table and began working at a pile of papers. He seldom spoke more than a word or two at a time, and Inman had learned little more of him than that his name was Balis and that before the war he had been to school at Chapel Hill, where he had attempted to master Greek. All his waking time was now spent trying to render ancient scribble from a fat little book into plain writing anyone could read. He sat hunched at his table with his face inches from his work and squirmed in his chair, looking to find a comfortable position for his leg. His right foot had been taken off by grape at Cold Harbor, and the stub seemed not to want to heal and had rotted inch by inch from the ankle up. His amputations had now proceeded past the knee, and he smelled all the time like last year's ham. For a while there was only the sound of Balis's pen scratching, pages turning. Then others in the room began to stir and cough, a few to moan. Eventually the light swelled so that all the lines of the varnished beadboard walls stood clear, and Inman could cock back on the chair's hind legs and count the flies on the ceiling. He made it to be sixty-three. As Inman's view through the window solidified, the dark trunks of the oak trees showed themselves first, then the patchy lawn, and finally the red road. He was waiting for the blind man to come. He had attended to the man's movements for some weeks, and now that he had healed enough to be numbered among the walking, Inman was determined to go out to the cart and speak to the man, for Inman figured him to have been living with a wound for a long time. Inman had taken his own during the fighting outside Petersburg. When his two nearest companions pulled away his clothes and looked at his neck, they had said him a solemn farewell in expectation of his death. We'll meet again in a better world, they said. But he lived as far as the field hospital, and there the doctors had taken a similar attitude. He was classed among the dying and put aside on a cot to do so. But he failed at it. After two days, space being short, they sent him on to a regular hospital in his own state. All through the mess of the field hospital and the long grim train ride south in a boxcar filled with wounded, he had agreed with his friends and the doctors. He thought he would die. About all he could remember of the trip was the heat and the odors of blood and of shit, for many of the wounded had the flux. Those with the strength to do so had knocked holes in the sides of the wood boxcars with the butts of rifles and rode with their heads thrust out like crated poultry to catch the breeze. At the hospital, the doctors looked at him and said there was not much they could do. He might live or he might not. They gave him but a grey rag and a little basin to clean his own wound. Those first few days, when he broke consciousness enough to do it, he wiped at his neck with the rag until the water in the basin was the color of the comb on a turkey-cock. But mainly the wound had wanted to clean itself. Before it started scabbing, it spit out a number of things: a collar button and a piece of wool collar from the shirt he had been wearing when he was hit, a shard of soft grey metal as big as a quarter dollar piece, and, unaccountably, something that closely resembled a peach pit. That last he set on the nightstand and studied for some days. He could never settle his mind on whether it was a part of him or not. He finally threw it out the window but then had troubling dreams that it had taken root and grown, like Jack's bean, into something monstrous. His neck had eventually decided to heal. But during the weeks when he could neither turn his head nor hold up a book to read, Inman had lain every day watching the blind man. The man would arrive alone shortly after dawn, pushing his cart up the road, doing it about as well as any man who could see. He would set up his business under an oak tree across the road, lighting a fire in a ring of stones and boiling peanuts over it in an iron pot. He would sit all day on a stool with his back to the brick wall, selling peanuts and newspapers to those at the hospital whole enough to walk. Unless someone came to buy something, he rested as still as a stuffed man with his hands together in his lap. That summer, Inman had viewed the world as if it were a picture framed by the molding around the window. Long stretches of time often passed when, for all the change in the scene, it might as well have been an old painting of a road, a wall, a tree, a cart, a blind man. Inman had sometimes counted off slow numbers in his head to see how long it would be before anything of significance altered. It was a game and he had rules for it. A bird flying by did not count. Someone walking down the road did. Major weather changes did-the sun coming out, fresh rain-but shadows of passing clouds did not. Some days he'd get up in the thousands before there was any allowable alteration in the elements of the picture. He believed the scene would never leave his mind-wall, blind man, tree, cart, road-no matter how far on he lived. He imagined himself an old man thinking about it. Those pieces together seemed to offer some meaning, though he did not know what and suspected he never would. Inman watched the window as he ate his breakfast of boiled oats and butter, and shortly he saw the blind man come trudging up the road, his back humped against the weight of the cart he pushed, little twin clouds of dust rising from beneath the turning cartwheels. When the blind man had his fire going and his peanuts boiling, Inman put his plate on the windowsill and went outside and with the shuffling step of an old man crossed the lawn to the road. The blind man was square and solid in shoulder and hip, and his britches were cinched at the waist with a great leather belt, wide as a razor strop. He went hatless, even in the heat, and his cropped hair was thick and grey, coarse-textured as the bristles to a hemp brush. He sat with his head tipped down and appeared to be somewhat in a muse, but he raised up as Inman approached, like he was really looking. His eyelids, though, were dead as shoe leather and were sunken into puckered cups where his eyeballs had been. Without pausing even for salutation Inman said, Who put out your pair of eyes? The blind man had a friendly smile on his face and he said, Nobody. I never had any. That took Inman aback, for his imagination had worked in the belief that they had been plucked out in some desperate and bloody dispute, some brute fraction. Every vile deed he had witnessed lately had been at the hand of a human agent, so he had about forgot that there was a whole other order of misfortune. -Why did you never have any? Inman said. -Just happened that way. -Well, Inman said. You're mighty calm. Especially for a man that most would say has taken the little end of the horn all his life. The blind man said, It might have been worse had I ever been given a glimpse of the world and then lost it. -Maybe, Inman said. Though what would you pay right now to have your eyeballs back for ten minutes? Plenty, I bet. The man studied on the question. He worked his tongue around the corner of his mouth. He said, I'd not give an Indianhead cent. I fear it might turn me hateful. -It's done it to me, Inman said. There's plenty I wish I'd never seen. -That's not the way I meant it. You said ten minutes. It's having a thing and the loss I'm talking about. The blind man twisted a square of newsprint up into a cone and then dipped with a riddly spoon into the pot and filled the cone with wet peanuts. He handed it to Inman and said, Come on, cite me one instance where you wished you were blind. Where to begin? Inman wondered. Malvern Hill. Sharpsburg. Petersburg. Any would do admirably as example of unwelcome visions. But Fredericksburg was a day particularly lodged in his mind. So he sat with his back to the oak and halved the wet peanut shells and thumbed the meats out into his mouth and told the blind man his tale, beginning with how the fog had lifted that morning to reveal a vast army marching uphill toward a stone wall, a sunken road. Inman's regiment was called to join the men already behind the wall, and they had quickly formed up alongside the big white house at the top of Maryes Heights. Lee and Longstreet and befeathered Stuart stood right there on the lawn before the porch, taking turns glassing the far side of the river and talking. Longstreet had a grey shawl of wool draped about his shoulders. Compared to the other two men, Longstreet looked like a stout hog drover. But from what Inman had seen of Lee's way of thinking, he'd any day rather have Longstreet backing him in a fight. Dull as Longstreet looked, he had a mind that constantly sought ground configured so a man could hunker down and do a world of killing from a position of relative safety. And that day at Fredericksburg was all in the form of fighting that Lee mistrusted and that Longstreet welcomed. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Contextp. 1
Plot Overviewp. 3
Character Listp. 7
Analysis of Major Charactersp. 11
Inmanp. 11
Adap. 12
Rubyp. 13
Themes, Motifs & Symbolsp. 15
Isolation in the Search for Meaningp. 15
Knowledge and Intuitionp. 15
Seasonal Changes and Rotationsp. 16
The Pastp. 17
The Crowp. 17
Forked Roads and Crossingsp. 17
Dark-Haired Womenp. 17
Summary & Analysisp. 19
The Shadow of a Crowp. 19
The Ground Beneath Her Handsp. 22
The Color of Despair; Verbs, All of Them Tiringp. 24
Like any Other Thing, a Gift; Ashes of Rosesp. 27
Exile and Brute Wanderingp. 31
Source and Rootp. 33
To Live Like a Gamecockp. 36
In Place of the Truth; the Doing of itp. 39
Freewill Savages; Bride Bed Full of Bloodp. 42
A Satisfied Mind; a Vow to Bearp. 45
Naught and Grief; Black Bark in Winterp. 47
Footsteps in the Snow; the Far Side of Troublep. 50
Spirits of Crows, Dancing; Epilogue. October of 1874p. 53
Important Quotations Explainedp. 57
Key Factsp. 63
Study Questions & Essay Topicsp. 65
Review & Resourcesp. 69
Quizp. 69
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 74