There are certain stories that haven’t left me. Their characters have become so real that they’ve become intimate friends. Their lives have become so entangled with mine that I can’t remember my life without them. Their places are so vivid that I can picture them as easily as if it were a photograph set before me, a set of events that seemed to have happened as easily as mine.
I have never left Cold Mountain.
Surprisingly, I didn’t know about the book until after I saw the movie in 2004. I remember sitting down in the theatre and when the credits rolled, I felt like I was with Inman and Ada. I was traveling through the Southern landscape as the war was fought around me. I was sitting alone in the farmhouse with Ada, struggling to live and hoping that he was coming home alive. And when it was done, I wanted go back and meet them again.
I found the book at Barnes and Noble. I bought it immediately; I didn’t care that I had to pay full price. I wanted my hands on it.
It took me an age to read the book. It’s a panorama of vistas. You can see where Inman and Ada are. You can see the rugged anger of Teague as he ruthlessly pursues his dream of regaining the land of Cold Mountain.
I was in love with these characters. They weren’t trying to sell you something. They didn’t make an effort to hide their rugged parts because that’s not who they are or what their life is about.
And the love between Inman and Ada: that was the realest of all. You rooted for them because you know this is what was supposed to happen. More shallow love affairs have suffered for less and lasted for longer. But true love comes at a price and sometimes you have to accept what real life wants from you in order to know the love of your life for just a moment. Sometimes you don’t get a happily ever after and Inman and Ada come to this realization in the most brutal of ways.
2017 marks the 20 year anniversary of when Cold Mountain was first published. I plan on re-visiting it again. I don’t think Charles Frazier realized how much of an impact his book had on me when I first read it and watched the movie. There is love and there is circumstances that keep us apart even when it doesn’t seem fair.
And even in the pain, the scars have healed and we move foreword with a different kind of ending.