A 1997 novel by Charles Frazier (made into a film in 2003 starring Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, and Jude Law) which tells the story of Ada Monroe, who moves from Charleston to rural Cold Mountain with her aging (and ailing) father for his health, and W.P. Inman, a terse but goodhearted young man. Just as Ada and Inman seem to be developing a relationship, Inman leaves to fight for the Confederate Army and, after being wounded in battle, decides to desert and walk through often hostile territory to get back home to Ada. Meanwhile, Ada's father has died and she must learn how to survive on her own.So, as Inman is Walking the Earthto return to Ada, frequently encountering the worst and the downright bizarre of human nature, Ada learns slowly how to manage a farm with the blunt assistance of Ruby, a no-nonsense country girl, whose own drunk layabout father drops in from time to time
Contains examples of:
Abusive Parents: Stobrod, along with (and probably because of) being an Alcoholic Parent. In the film, Ruby asserts that he regularly beat her, and he doesn't deny it. In the book, however, Stobrod asserts that he never hurt Ruby once — but he neglected her to an abusive extent, anyway.
Ambiguously Brown: Ruby is described as being dark-skinned, with a broad nose and hair the texture of a horse's mane. Whether this is due to mixed racial heritage, or simply her rough outdoors life, is up to interpretation. If she's mixed-race, it certainly would help explain why she can't get a job with anyone but a desperate city slicker.
Greek Mythology: While not directly referencing the epic, the story closely follows that of The Odyssey, with the setting, context and names changed. In the book, Ada reads to Ruby from The Odyssey, and Ruby likes it, but thinks that Odysseus might be a bit less honest and more wily than the epic lets on.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ruby and Ada eventually turn into this. In the final, they're still working together with their children and Ruby's husband.
Hypocrite: Veasey. He's a priest and repeatedly lectures people about doing things the godly way, yet, while engaged, impregnated a woman out of wedlock, attempted to drown her, and repeatedly messes around with other women throughout the rest of his time in the book, not including all of the other underhanded stuff he does.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Ada, more so in the novel than the film. This is gradually subverted over the course of her friendship with Ruby, who is Book Dumb, but very observant, and knowledgeable about aspects of the world that mystify Ada.
Sometimes, this even extends to her relationship with Inman, who is confused and upset when Ada shields herself with upper class manners out of pure habit.
I Will Fight No More Forever: Inman uses this as an explanation for why he's willing to let Boisie go instead of just shooting him which ultimately results in both of their deaths when Boisie refuses to back down.
Orphan's Ordeal: Ada, having been taken care of all her life, has no idea what to do when her father dies.
Oscar Bait: An epic historical drama, based on a bestselling book which was in turn based on the letters passed between the author's ancestors, featuring death, racism, and philosophical musings... nominated for seven Oscars and won for Best Supporting Actress (Renee Zellweger as Ruby.)