The Home Front

I plucked this book off my mother’s bookshelf before a recent trip to North Carolina. I realize it was a touristy thing to do (especially after seeing the book on display at every bookstore and gift shop we happened upon), but I would have read Cold Mountain eventually. Why not be transported literally and literarily at the same time? My decision was confirmed after I labored through the first chapter on the outbound flight. I wasn’t hooked by chapter one, but by the title of chapter two: “the ground beneath her hands.” Following so closely on the heels of The Ground Beneath Her Feet as it did I took that as a good omen.

I wasn’t able to read too many chapters beyond that on the trip, as I was traveling with family, but I was able to see Cold Mountain as we drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. That hazy visual helped me match the topography with Frazier’s vivid and extensively detailed depiction as I read later. This book does not spare details the way it spares sentimentality (I could have been spared the epilogue though). The details and diction of Cold Mountain seeped into my mind like a mist and I found myself thinking in its terms, which is a sure sign of the affect of a great book. I also felt compelled to tend to my property, meager and nonsustaining though it may be. The concept of the homestead has changed, but the compulsion to return home is constant.


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