Category Archives: 2003

2003

Lights, Camera, Novel: Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain.

Cold MountainNorth Carolina has been a popular setting for movies and television shows, yet that setting is most often fictitious. Of the 600 movies and shows nominally sited in North Carolina between 1980 and 2002, 95 percent were actually filmed outside of the state. Anthony Minghella’s adaptation of Cold Mountain was one of them. Charles Frazier’s novel depicts Confederate deserter W.P. Inman’s long and arduous journey from a hospital in Raleigh to his home near Cold Mountain and his sweetheart, the genteel Ada Monroe from Charleston, who struggles to survive on her own following the death of her father. British director Anthony Minghella scouted locations over a period of five years before deciding to film the adaptation in Romania. Filming in North Carolina would have been a boon to state tourism. When the novel was released in 1997, it created a small increase in tourism. Local businesses and state officials knew that filming here would both make jobs and increase tourism.

Romania was a more attractive choice to Minghella because the rural landscape is much more intact than in North Carolina, where elements of modern life, like telephone poles and paved roads, are present, and logging has altered the area’s appearance. Minghella also noted that there were too few period buildings around Asheville and its environs. By contrast, Minghella could more easily manipulate the Romanian countryside to look like Civil War era North Carolina. The majority of the film was shot in Romania, though a few locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were used.

The real Cold Mountain at its highest point is a daunting 6,030 feet. The mountain is located within the Pisgah National Forest. Asheville’s tourism site advises that only experienced hikers should dare to take on 11-mile hike, which has no trail markers. Visitors can view the mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Inman, Frazier’s protagonist is based on relatives–chiefly his great-great-uncle, but also his great-grandfather. Frazier retrieved information about Inman’s service from the North Carolina State Archives, whose records state that Inman deserted twice, although conflicting records throw doubt on the second desertion. Inman’s neck injury sustained during the Battle of the Crater and his death at the hands of the Home Guard are verified facts, represented in the novel and the movie adaptation.

Overall, the movie, featuring Hollywood stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renée Zellweger, is faithful to the book in terms of plot, though there are differences in mood. The romance between Ada and Inman and the violence (specifically the brutality of the Home Guard) are accentuated on-screen. Most of the characters are appropriately scruffy and disheveled, given the tough conditions, but Charles McGrath of the New York Times notes that Kidman’s Ada Monroe remains improbably radiant throughout the film.

Treatment of race and slavery drew some critical remarks. Both the book and movie’s portrayal of the Battle of the Crater downplayed the important presence of black soldiers on the Union side. Brendan Wolfe made a counterpoint during a critique of the first chapter of Kevin Lenin’s Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder. Wolfe is not troubled by how the novel and the film skirt around these tense issues since the focus of the story is not strict historical accuracy or a panoramic view of the war. Cold Mountain is the story of a disillusioned man on an epic trek home that parallels The Odyssey. But race and slavery are difficult topics to broach, and the representation of the American South throughout film history is varied.

 

The clip above from Movie Clips shows Jude Law as Inman in the beginning of the film resting in the trenches and looking at a photo of Ada shortly before the Union soldiers blow up a mine beneath the Confederate trench. After the fuse is lit, there’s a grand and dramatic cinematic explosion.

Minghella’s Cold Mountain was recognized with over 70 awards following its release in 2003. Renée Zellweger won Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards, and the film was nominated for Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song twice:  for T-Bone Burnett and Elvis Costello’s The Scarlet Tide and Sting’s You Will Be My Ain True Love. For those interested in the music of the film and Appalachian folk songs, look at this interview of Charles Frazier in the Journal of Southern Religion. Cold Mountain was the seventh film directed by director-producer-screenwriter-actor Minghella who died in 2008.  The movie is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, as is the novel.  The original blog post on Frazier’s novel is available here.

Sources consulted here: Augusta Chronicle, Book Browse, Chicago Times (two different articles), Encyclopedia Virginia, Explore Asheville, History Extra (of BBC History Magazine), Journal of Southern Religion, Los Angeles Times, Movie Clips, New York Times, Prologue Magazine (of NARA), USA Today, Wikipedia (Anthony Minghella, Cold Mountain [film], Cold Mountain [novel], Cold Mountain [North Carolina])

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Frazier, Charles, Haywood, Historical, Mountains

Joan Medlicott. The Spirit of Covington. New York: Atria Books, 2003.

The Ladies of Covington that you know and love are back in this, the fourth book of Joan Medlicott’s popular series. Tired of watching their lives waste away at a dismal Pennsylvania boarding house for widows, 60-something Hannah, Amelia, and Grace threw their lots together when Amelia unexpectedly inherited a farmhouse in the little town of Covington. Often compared to Jan Karon’s Mitford, Covington is a small, North Carolina mountain town near Asheville.

In this installment of their adventures, the unthinkable happens: a careless forest fire burns the Ladies’ precious renovated farmhouse to the ground. Amelia, for all her complaining about the opossums in the walls and the creaky floorboards, is the most devastated. With the loss of the farmhouse, all the other losses in her life (the deaths of her husband and young daughter in particular) rise up and threaten to send her into a deep depression. Hannah and Grace are also saddened by the loss of their possessions and the house, but they are initially willing to rebuild in an affordable, modern style. But Amelia’s pain causes them to reconsider, and soon the Ladies are having an exact replica of the old building constructed. All seems well, but building a house takes a long time, and each woman will face different challenges that will threaten her former lifestyle: insistent gentleman friends proposing, abused children who need a guardian, and the problems visited on them by their own blood relatives all present Hannah, Amelia, and Grace with compelling reasons to move on with the rest of their lives. Will they decide to stay in Covington, the town each has come to know and love, after all? And will they remain, together, the Ladies?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

 

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Medlicott, Joan, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Blonnie Bunn Wyche. The Anchor: P. Moore Proprietor. Wilmington, NC: Banks Channel Books, 2003.

I don’t consider my questions treason. I think it’s more about common sense. Pauline Moore is full of questions, and opinions. Everyone is: it is 1764 and the small town of Brunswick, North Carolina, along with the rest of the colony, is stirring under England’s stifling taxation. Unfortunately, since Pauline is female and only fifteen at that, she is expected to stay quiet and serve the real thinkers: men. But when her profligate father leaves town, Pauline is the only one left to take charge of her little sisters, sick mother, and the family tavern. The next few years will be hard ones: this spunky heroine will face the chaos of a budding rebellion, the daily tasks of managing a business and household, and powerful men who assume that her gender makes her a weak and simple target. Pauline is anything but. Educated, strong, and stubborn, she grows to adulthood alongside her new nation, where she imagines everyone, including slaves and women, will be free.

In this beautifully written and precisely researched tale, Blonnie Bunn Wyche provides a stirring look at the colonial town of Brunswick (now in ruins), the birth of the Revolutionary War in North Carolina, and a strong and fiery heroine who dares to stand up for freedom for all. Pauline Moore’s bravery and moral code will resonate in the minds of young women and readers everywhere.

Winner of the Juvenile Fiction Award from the American Association of University Women, and the N.C. Historical Society of Sherrills Ford’s Clark Cox Fiction Award.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Brunswick, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Romance/Relationship, Wyche, Blonnie Bunn

Dixie Land. Serenity. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2003.

After she finds her fiancé with another woman, Maggie Thornton decides to bail out of the life she’s been living.  With no specific plans, she packs up her belongings and heads south.  Only because she needs a break, she stops in the little (fictitious) town of Serenity, North Carolina.  The good people of Serenity welcome Maggie, and soon she has a place to stay, a job, friends, and a new love.  But Maggie’s past comes back to threaten her happiness when her ex-fiancé attempts to push his way back into her life, abusing the trusting nature of Maggie’s friends to keep tabs on her and to subvert her new romance.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Coastal Plain, Land, Dixie, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Peggy Poe Stern. Tamarack. Boone, NC: Moody Valley, 2003.

Peggy Poe Stern writes tales of mountain people who live hard lives. In Tamarack, the Dyke-Press family of Hemlock Ridge, North Carolina, is described. Alcoholism, poverty, incest, and untreated mental illness are miseries that have followed family members for three generations. Mary Press Tate, a victim of incest, takes matters into her own hands and kills her father, an act that shakes the Watauga County community. In the aftermath of the killing, ugly family secrets that were long-hidden are brought to the surface so that justice can be found.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Mountains, Stern, Peggy Poe, Watauga

Peggy Poe Stern. Heaven-high and Hell-deep. Boone, NC: Moody Valley, 2003.

Mountain women are often noted for being strong-willed and independent. This is true of Elaine “Laine” Elder. The Appalachian teenager had already lived a difficult life before Rafford “Rafe” Johnson came into the picture. Treated like a modern-day Cinderella by her sister and hysterical mother, Laine efficiently runs the family farm while her father works at the local sawmill. When Rafe comes to the Elder homestead to ask for Laine’s hand in marriage, her downtrodden father accepts his offer to appease his wife. Although Laine barely knows Rafe, she is eager to be a good wife and to be in charge of his fine plantation house in Kentucky.

Laine’s contentment quickly evaporates as her new husband shows his true stripes as a menacing, abandoning, and cheating drunk. While Rafe is away on a trading excursion, Jonas Jones, the local doctor, pays a visit to Laine. Dr. Jones is a former acquaintance, and their friendship blossoms as Laine solicits from him information about her elusive spouse. She discovers that Rafe is lying to her; not only has he been married before but they are mere miles from Banner Elk, North Carolina – not in Kentucky. Laine realizes that she is pregnant, and she is determined to give her child a proper rearing and to improve her own situation. When Rafe, her sister, her now-widowed mother, and a panther threaten her safe haven, Laine demonstrates her grit in standing up to them and protecting her new life.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Avery, Historical, Mountains, Stern, Peggy Poe

Cynn Chadwick. Cat Rising. New York: Harington Park Press, 2003.

Now that Cat Hood is finally a published writer, her life should be coming together. At least that is what she has always thought would be the case. Instead, she is even more unsure of who she is and her future. Being “famous” in (fictional) Galway, North Carolina, is tiresome, and she has never felt such a void in her romantic life. Her friends and family all have plans for her. Travel the world. Stay at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Find someone to share her life with. Stay independent. Although everyone has an opinion, no one knows Cat like she knows herself – or the lifelong dream she has to write a book about her grandmother in her homeland of Scotland. Just as Cat finds the perfect partner and becomes more comfortable promoting her book, she learns of an opportunity to spend a year in the United Kingdom. Although leaving means walking outside of her comfort zone and missing those dearest to her, Cat realizes that taking this chance is exactly what she needs.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Chadwick, Cynn, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Tim Myers. Room for Murder. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2003.

After a fire destroyed the original Dual Keepers’ Quarters of the Hatteras West Inn, Alex Winston, owner of the lighthouse-themed hotel, has a new building constructed with funds from emeralds found on the property. After finishing touches are put on the structure, Alex decides to host a mayoral debate to get some publicity. The day is going well – there’s a great turnout and two of his best friends, Mor Pendleton and Emma Sturbridge, announce their engagement – until Mor discovers a dead body in the driver’s seat of his truck. The dead stranger is Emma’s ex-husband, and both Emma and Mor become suspects. A few days later, one of the candidates is found dead. The two cases seem completely unrelated, but Alex wants to investigate the crimes. Unfortunately for him, the crotchety sheriff has no interest in an amateur fiddling in his cases. As the mayoral race heats up and Alex’s relationship with Elise Danton, his housekeeper, strains, he is determined to get his sleepy (fictional) town of Elkton Falls back to normal. When Hurricane Zelda hits right as Mor and Emma’s wedding ends, the remaining guests find shelter in the lighthouse. Within those walls, the truth behind an unlikely murderer surfaces, and Alex helps solve the mystery.

Room for Murder is Tim Myers’ fourth novel in the “Lighthouse Inn Mystery” series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Mountains, Myers, Tim, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Tim Myers. Murder Checks Inn. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2003.

In Tim Myers’ third novel in his Lighthouse Inn Mystery series, the shocking murder of innkeeper Alex Winston’s uncle Jase is not the only mystery. Jase, a lawyer in the fictional town of Elkton Falls, North Carolina, had been working on the estate of Mathias Trask at the time of his death.  Alex and most of the locals are unfamiliar with Trask or his stuffy family members who have come to Hatteras West Inn as part of his last request. Although it is not a stretch to suspect Trask’s estranged wife and greedy children of being interested in the Mathias’s will, one of them murdering his lawyer is.  As Alex grieves and deals with the odd family, he decides that he must find his uncle’s killer in order to cope. He investigates the people who have come to Hatteras West: the Trask family; Mathias’s secret daughter who has just been announced to the rest of the family; Alex’s distant brother Tony who relied on Jase’s financial help and would have benefited from his inheritance, and a strange drifter who suddenly showed up to help out at the inn. Just as time is starting to run out and Alex’s friends are threatened, Alex discovers the culprit and brings closure to Jase’s death.

Murder Checks Inn is the third novel in Tim Myers’ “Lighthouse Inn Mystery” Series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Mountains, Myers, Tim, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Tim Myers. At Wick’s End. New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2003.

Harrison Black is working a dead-end job selling computers when he gets the phone call. His beloved great-aunt Belle has just passed away, and he needs to meet with her attorney immediately. Little does he know that this meeting will change his life. In her will Belle left Harrison her candle shop, At Wick’s End, with the wish that he will move to Micah’s Ridge and be fully involved in the day-to-day activities of the store. With no better option and a desire to stay true to his great-aunt, Harrison decides to move into her apartment at River’s Edge, the mixed-use property she also left him.

Harrison likes this new, warm community and he finds he has a talent for candle making. Everything would be just as Belle wished if Harrison didn’t have a sneaking suspicion that Belle’s death was not an accident. Her death is suspicious because it appears she fell from a ladder, but she was afraid of heights. Additionally, a strange series of break-ins and robberies occur at River’s Edge, and a diamond jeweler is murdered. Just when he starts to despair that he will never find the answer, Harrison discovers a large diamond hidden inside the last candle Belle ever made – her secret clue. Harrison, a devoted Agatha Christie fan, makes an identical candle and puts it on display with the hope that it will draw the murderer into At Wick’s End. When an unlikely but armed individual comes into the store after hours looking for the diamond, Harrison uses the only weapon available to protect himself and the store while finding his great-aunt’s killer – hot wax!

At Wick’s End is Tim Myer’s first novel in the “Candlemaking Mystery” series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Myers, Tim, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places