Goodreads Review: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Five Star review, originally posted here in April 2014.

I should note that I did the audiobook version of this book, which I believe makes a huge difference in how it is experienced. The author does his own reading, and so you get a sense of exactly how he wants you to hear his own words. He does a fantastic job and really sucks you in. I was spellbound throughout.

There are certain things that I could see being potentially problematic if I were reading the text, though. Frazier has looooong, off-topic, beautiful tangents, where he will spend minutes just describing a landscape, or telling a random backstory before eventually meandering back to the plot. As a reader this might bug me, but as an audiobook it was almost soothing- you could kinda zone out the way you would if a friend were telling a longwinded story, and zone back in, and still be good. the book moved along like a lazy road trip- sometimes stopping for pictures, sometimes cruising along, sometimes interrupted by jokes, never in a rush to get to the end. But you don’t really care about detours and delays, because you’re in great company, and Frazier tells a damn good story.
(Other reviews have commented that Frazier takes liberties with punctuation, or lack thereof, which would drive me nuts as a reader, but which obviously doesn’t transfer to audiobook format.)

I should note that Ada is a WAY more interesting character in the book than she was in the movie. I like Nicole Kidman just fine, but she seemed poorly cast for this role. She’s too, umm… NORMAL. Ada is a complete weirdo. A really interesting, compelling, multi-faceted weirdo. But the movie makes her just seem like a kinda pretty girl stuck in the country letting things happen around her and having other people care for her. Along the same lines, the book doesn’t really pretend that the two main characters are really super in love soulmates. Hell, they barely know each other. If Facebook existed in the 19th century, they’d be listed as “It’s complicated,” which makes his journey home to her that much more interesting- he doesn’t really know what to expect at the other end, and neither do we the readers. So if you’ve watched the movie and are thinking of skipping the book because it’s just another damsel-in-distress story, think again.

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