I was going to explain how trying to describe this book is like trying to describe a mountain view, where everything you say just comes off sounding trite and even though the view itself took your breath away (see?), no replication can do it justice, but then I realized that this would pun horribly off of the title, and so opted not to.
Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
Let’s just talk about the plot, chall we?
Inman (TOtally inseperable in my mind the entire time from Iman – even though he is white and a man – thus providing the book with some unintentional levity) is a soldier in the Civil (maybe?) War, except that he gets tired of fighting and also shot in the neck so he AWOLs from his hospital bed and sets off across the country to find his pre-war sweetheart.
Aforementioned sweetheart, Ada, is living on her daddy’s farm, except that he’s dead and all the help has run off and she’s never learned how to do anything besides paint and play piano and be pretty. Which you’d think would make us hate her, Fellow Readers, but we don’t. We adore her, and we are so pleased when Ruby, an aggresively handy quasi-orphan, shows up to live with her and teach her how to make corn into liquor.
So Ruby and Ada are reaping and canning and storing and all those Little House on the Prairie activities that are so fun for those of us with overactive nesting instincts to read about. Meanwhile, Inman is dragging his ass through perilous territory and having all kinds of adventures. In betweenst, he’ll stop and think back to the first time he saw Ada, or she’ll pause in her scarecrow-making to reflect on that time she sat on his knee, and their whole courtship is (retrospectively) so tentative and awkward and dear that you just want to hug it. And the more you fall in love with them as characters and with their affection, the more sick with fear you are that something will happen to keep them from reuiniting.
Do they? Don’t they? Is Inman shot in the guts within sight of home? Is Ada crushed by a tree she was felling? Do they come together in joyous union and have a bouncing baby? I’ll never tell.