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Journeys are a pretty familiar way of exploring the world after the big collapse of civilisation (Book of Eli, The Road) and this is just what the American South has come to, the military, social and economic collapse of a decadent society. Through the post-war chaos one man just wants to head for home, but on route he has to pass the furies. This is no Oh Brother Where Art Thou however, for the curdled societies through which he travels home are now at war with themselves. Here is each against the other, where almost all are considered undesireable outsiders, and where the con-artist rules with a vicious recourse to violence and retribution. But the characters he meets are not all vile, though few if any are untouched by being within a deepening wasteland. And of course the returning soldier changes too, always aware of the fragility of life, of friendship, and of his goal to return home. The 'kindness of strangers' is rarely apparent, but at the most unlikely juncture people can learn a new respect for themselves and others. Meanwhile the folks back home also change out of recognition, to themselves and those who might seek them out. New skills are won and shared, new identities formed, threatened and defended. As the traveller and the homestead convergence the post-war South starts to emerge as something none would have wished to find, but all have some responsibly for creating. This might make the tale very depressing, but its ability to pick out the human moment in the strangest of places (betting on lacrosse with the Cherokee) means that overall I find this quite heartening, though without the more contrived bitter-sweet ending of the movie Sommersby. Even if you have already seen the film read or listen to the book. As is so often the case the book has so much more to offer than the film: your view of folk will never be quite the same. And if a civilisation should collapse, get home as quickly as possible and don't look back. It could happen here too.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Where does Cold Mountain rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
This is my all time favourite book. Wish I could give it 6 stars
What other book might you compare Cold Mountain to, and why?
Nothing I've listened to or read
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
"Don't worry we won't use Nicole Kidman"
3 of 3 people found this review helpful