Rated of 5
This is a lyrical and moving novel, but Frasier unfortunately falters at the end by making the stereotypical 'tragic end' mistake. It really does make the book seem pointless. Yet in doing so, Frasier thereby joins the ranks of many celebrated authors throughout the history of literature who believed the only stories worth telling were the ones that ended in misery. The characters of Cold Mountain labored, struggled, sacrificed and suffered - for what, again? Is Frasier trying to tell us life is unfair? That it's full of tragedy, of heartbreak? That "War is Hell?" I think he did so many times over during the course of the novel; the Civil War setting alone makes many of those points just by association. But maybe he thought no one would take him seriously if he gave it a more positive ending... feared criticism for being an 'Oprah's Book Club' case of happy-ending contrivedness. It's a shame he couldn't have enough faith in the beauty and strength of his own work to give the reader a vision of hope and renewal. The South did carry on... the spirits of those who came home and those who waited deserve to be remembered, their courage celebrated. Unfortunately, a tribute to such strength and endurance is ultimately *not* found in the pages of Cold Mountain.