Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

When I read Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain I thought it was one of the best books I'd read in a long time. His modern storytelling combined with the antique setting worked perfectly for me--as well as for the critics and general reading public. The book won the National Book Award.

I was hesitant to read Thirteen Moons, however. Many critics panned it, and it was not the popular success Cold Mountain was. I should not have waited so long. Thirteen Moons is far superior to Cold Mountain.
At the age of 12, Will Cooper is sold into indentured servitude after his parents die. He is sent to the "wild west" of what is now North Carolina to run a trading post. Will meets Bear and Featherstone, Indians who separately become surrogate parents for him. He also wins Claire in a card game and fall in love with her and sets her free and continues to yearn for her the rest of his life.
While Will experiences great success personally, professionally and financially, his story is one of even greater loss. The melancholy tone and the extended narrative combine to make perfect reading for late autumn.
Will narrates his story in his 90's, from the front porch of the house he eventually built in the Smokeys of his youth. His voice is authentic and yet contemporary, creating a wonderful reading experience.
And this is one case where the audio book is the equal to the written word. Will Patton's reading brings out all the nuances of Frazier's tale.
This is a perfect book for a cozy fire on these cool nights.

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