Charles Frazier's debut novel, Cold Mountain, is the story of a very long walk. In the waning months of the Civil War, a wounded Confederate veteran named Inman gets up from his hospital bed and begins the long journey back to his home in the remote hills of North Carolina. Along the way he meets rogues and outlaws, Good Samaritans and vigilantes, people who help and others who hinder, but through it all Inman's aim is true: his one goal is to return to Cold Mountain and to Ada, the woman he left behind. The object of his affection, meanwhile, has problems of her own. Raised in the rarified air of Charleston society, Ada was brought to the backwoods of Cold Mountain by her father, a preacher who came to the country for his health. Even after her father's death, Ada remains there, partly to wait for Inman, but partly because she senses her destiny lies not in the city but in the North Carolina Blue Ridge.
Cold Mountain is the story of two parallel journeys: Inman's physical trek across the American landscape and Ada's internal odyssey toward an understanding of herself. What makes Frazier's novel so satisfying is the depth of detail surrounding both journeys. Frazier based this story on family history, and in the characters of Inman and Ada he has paid a rich compliment to their historical counterparts. Cold Mountain is, quite simply, a wonderful book.