When Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain was published in 1997, it gained immediate critical and popular success, lasting sixty-one weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and gaining the National Book Award along with other accolades that year. Readers responded to the stirring tale of a Confederate soldier named Inman, his long journey home from the horrors of the Civil War, and his bittersweet reunion with the woman who waited for him. The novel cuts back and forth between Inman’s difficult journey that tests his physical as well as his emotional strength and Ada’s tale of her own struggles to survive in a harsh landscape and violent time.
Stories of Frazier’s ancestors along with those of the North Carolina mountaineers who were caught up in the frenzy of the war years became the inspiration for the novel. Frazier explains in an interview with Salon, “The story seemed like an American odyssey and it also seemed to offer itself as a form of elegy for that lost world I had been thinking about.” Serving as a model for the fictional Inman was Frazier’s great-great-uncle W. P. Inman, who also turned his back on the war and met a similar fate. Cold Mountain is a moving tribute to those who were lost in the war and those who survived it, as well as a celebration of an indomitable sense of hopeful readiness in confronting the possibilities life holds.