i've had this on my to-read list for quite some time. i have to say i'm sorry i saw the movie before i read the book, because i think i would have enjoyed the book more if i hadn't.
cold mountain is the story of ada and inman. his journey back to her after going awol toward the end of the civil war, and her development into a self-reliant individual.
the book was very good. very full, descriptive, full of life and breath. it was so vivid in it's portrayal of the various characters encountered by ada and inman. you really get a feel of the poverty and desperation experienced by those left behind while the men went off to fight; how devastating the war was to the people in the south.
reading the novel is really like entering another world. it makes you ache for cold mountain just as inman does. i wish i had read it with a group, to get other perspectives on it, to see what themes they pulled from it.
i was also disappointed to find that my favorite line from the film isn't in the book. it's when ruby and ada are about to head up the mountain to find ruby's dad, and ruby says, "people say this war is a cloud over the land. but men made the weather and then they stand in it and say 'oh shit, it's raining'!" (or something to that effect). i think it's such a poignant part in the film and beautifully sums up one of the themes of the book. we cannot divorce ourselves from our actions nor can we divorce ourselves from our leaders actions. the civil war was devastating. devastating beyond comprehension. and it was of our own making. and it's hardly ever the people with the most power in controlling events who pay the price.