Category Archives: Haywood


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.

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])

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

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

David Goodwillie. American Subversive. New York: Scribner, 2011.

Aidan Cole is only thirty-three, but his privileged existence in New York City has become an embittered one. Roorback (a word meaning a false or slanderous story used for political advantage) is the digital baby that has brought so much heaviness to his once idealistic life. A blog devoted to gossip and news, all served up with a healthy amount of disdainful sarcasm, Roorback was invented and is maintained by Aidan to great success, but it has now taken up so much room in his world that he has nowhere to go but deeper into his own malaise and disinterest. Even a mysterious explosion above world-famous Barneys quickly fades into the background of his routine. Outside of Roorback, Aidan’s life is a mixture of hip parties and expensive dinners with his fashionable Times columnist girlfriend Cressida. Then, someone sends him a brief but electrifying email: a photograph of a young woman walking away from the smoking explosion over Barneys, accompanied by a single sentence: This is Paige Roderick. She’s the one responsible.

Spurred into action, Aidan sets out to find the mysterious Paige Roderick…and stumbles into a world of secrets, eco-warriors, and fanatics. Set partially in North Carolina, American Subversive is a gripping portrait of a generation whose greatest enemy is its own boredom. Through the eyes of two very different but strikingly similar individuals, Goodwillie’s tale chronicles their efforts to develop meaningful voices and find anything in which to believe in a disinterested, mortally hip world.

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

Comments Off on David Goodwillie. American Subversive. New York: Scribner, 2011.

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Goodwillie, David, Haywood, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller

Phil Bowie. Diamondback. Aurora, IL: Medallion Press, 2007.

When the Cherokee were exiled from their mountains in 1838, their secrets and lore went with them, including how to find their precious gold mines. The new inhabitants of the Smoky Mountains have been searching ever since for these riches, finding some, but untold wealth still lies hidden in the North Carolina hills for those who know where to look. Moses Kyle isn’t the smartest of men, but he knows the backcountry of Haywood County, and one day he finds the ultimate motherload: a secret cave full of quartz and gold. But when the wrong people find out about his secret knowledge, they will do anything to extract the location. The local Cagle clan are many things, but patient isn’t one of them. Determined to souse out riches, they use their familial connections to a Pentecostal preacher (and his collection of snakes) to interrogate Moses.

Meanwhile, life has been difficult for John Hardin (formerly Sam Bass). Barely surviving the explosion that killed his girlfriend Valerie on the Outer Banks, he’s had to transition to a life in the Smokies. Even though the threat that placed him under witness protection is nearly gone, John is still living under the radar. When Moses Kyle goes missing and then turns up dead, John’s adopted mother, Hattie, begins to worry. She won’t rest until John looks into the situation, and once John goes looking, he finds more than he anticipated. Although he would like to keep living a quiet life with his successful aerial photography business, John can’t let these stones stay unturned. Along with his neighbor, the attractive, motorcycle-riding Kitty Birdsong, John investigates Moses’s mysterious death.

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

Comments Off on Phil Bowie. Diamondback. Aurora, IL: Medallion Press, 2007.

Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Bowie, Phil, Haywood, Mountains, Novels in Series, Suspense/Thriller

Kathryn Magendie. Sweetie. Memphis, TN: Bell Bridge Books, 2010.

“You are the town person just like I am the mountain person. I showed you through the mountains, now you show me through the town.” -Sweetie

Best friends have a way of teaching each other lessons. Melissa’s life changed the day she met Sweetie, a unique and independent girl with “mountain spirit.” Over the course of a summer, Sweetie expands Melissa’s world beyond television and candy bars to the hills and Native American traditions of Haywood County, North Carolina. She helps Melissa slim down, control her stuttering, and develop more of a backbone.

Sweetie’s reputation around town, however, is that she is a strange girl with a questionable background. Her inability to feel pain is deemed especially odd; classmates make fun of her. Melissa also becomes the brunt of their bullying because of her friendship with Sweetie, but she is proud of her best friend. When Sweetie needs assistance saving her dying mother, Melissa steps in to guard her from the town gossips. But Melissa cannot protect Sweetie, and Sweetie disappears without a trace. Despite her confidant’s absence, Melissa will be forever aware of the magic of friendship.

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

1 Comment

Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Haywood, Magendie, Kathryn, Mountains, Romance/Relationship

Wayne Caldwell. Requiem by Fire. New York: Random House, 2010.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive,” celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The National Parkway was established as a New Deal program to create jobs and to promote tourism in a region that was foreign to many Americans. Today, the picturesque landscape and enlightening roadside markers provide visitors with a glimpse of the beauty and culture of Appalachia.

Although the picture of the Parkway is pleasing today, its design and formation created tension and pain in the mountain communities it winds through. As Wayne Caldwell shows in Requiem by Fire,  families were stripped of their homes, livelihoods, and even relationships with one another.

When the North Carolina Park Commission comes to Cataloochee to discuss buyouts, community members learn they have two unhappy options. They can sell their farms now at a loss and leave, or sell at an even greater loss but continue to lease the land from the government. With regulations such as what natural resources they can harvest and even what burial techniques they can use, many people feel compelled to leave and try to start anew. However, other families decide to stay at they only homes they have ever known. This is difficult, though, because their villages shrink and social networks dwindle. No matter the choice made by the natives of Cataloochee in the late 1920s, “home” is forever changed.  Highlighting the strong connection to place felt by the people affected by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Caldwell provides a different view of the beloved roadway.

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

Comments Off on Wayne Caldwell. Requiem by Fire. New York: Random House, 2010.

Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Buncombe, Caldwell, Wayne, Haywood, Historical, Mountains

Kerry Madden. Jessie’s Mountain. New York: Viking, 2008.

This is the third and final installment of the Maggie Valley trilogy, and many of the Weems family members are facing difficult decisions. Livy Two is still hoping to break into the Nashville music scene. She’s encouraged to reach for her dreams when Grandma Horace gives her Mama’s childhood diary, filled with dreams she never had a chance to follow. The sisters are inspired by the entries in their mother’s diary, and sections of the diary are included throughout the book. While Mama currently struggles with the family’s financial problems and debates moving the family away from their valley home, Livy Two and her younger sister Jitters set out for Nashville and the biggest adventure of their lives. After returning to Maggie Valley the girls, still filled with entrepreneurial spirit, find a way to honor their hardworking Mama and solve the family’s financial problems.

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

Comments Off on Kerry Madden. Jessie’s Mountain. New York: Viking, 2008.

Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series

Kerry Madden. Louisana’s Song. New York: Viking, 2007.

In this sequel to Gentle’s Holler, Livy Two’s sister Louise is having a hard time going to school – she’s shy and would rather stay home and work on her art. Daddy is finally back at home after the accident, but the family’s financial problems are getting worse. The Weems children help out as they know how – Emmett still works for the carnival, Livy Two helps out with the bookmobile, Becksie waitresses at the nearby pancake house, and Louise begins to sell portraits. Through their endeavors to help the family, Livy Two and Louise begin to come into their own. The confidence Louise gains from selling her art helps her to stand up to the bullies at school in her own special way. Livy Two is also empowered by working and begins to send her songs to the music men in Nashville. However, when Daddy goes missing, will their confidence be shaken?

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

Comments Off on Kerry Madden. Louisana’s Song. New York: Viking, 2007.

Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series

Kerry Madden. Gentle’s Holler. New York: Viking, 2005.

When she’s not babysitting her younger siblings and helping out with household chores, twelve-year-old Livy Two Weems has a wild imagination and wanderlust about seeing the world outside of her mountain valley, largely inspired by the books she borrows from the mobile library. She’s also creative, and takes after her father, a struggling song writer and banjo player. The song lyrics and guitar riffs Livy Two writes about her life and family relationships are interspersed throughout the chapters.

Livy Two’s youngest sister is just a toddler, but Gentle was born blind and needs extra help. The emotional ties between the sisters are explored throughout the book. After Gentle is lost for a few hours in the valley, the tie between Livy Two and Gentle is cemented when Mama ties the two girls together with an apron to prevent Gentle from getting lost again. Through all this, Livy Two keeps her chin up, but when a terrible accident happens to her father, she isn’t sure if she can be strong enough to help her family through these trying times.

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

Comments Off on Kerry Madden. Gentle’s Holler. New York: Viking, 2005.

Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series

Kerry Madden. The Maggie Valley Trilogy.

Set in the mountains of North Carolina during the early 1960s, the books in the Maggie Valley trilogy follow the Weems family as they go through life in a small valley town in Haywood County.  Jessie and Tom Weems have ten children, with unique talents and personalities.  The books are narrated by Livy Two, their second oldest daughter who is twelve years old and full of moxie.  Livy Two writes her own songs, plays the guitar, and generally takes after her father.  Mountain music and song lyrics are included in many of the chapters, creatively explaining how Livy Two sees the relationships between family members and describing their way of life.  The Weems family is also joined by the cantankerous Grandma Horace and an affable pet dog, Uncle Hazard.  While nothing ever seems to be easy for the Weems family, their ties stay strong as they experience financial problems, health problems, and a major accident.  The novels explore the relationships among all the Weems children, but pay particular attention to three of the Weems daughters – Livy Two, Louise, and Jitters – as they come into their own.

1 Comment

Filed under Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series, Series

Ron Rash. Serena. New York: Ecco, 2008.

Set in 1929, Serena begins with timber-baron George Pemberton bringing his new wife from Boston to the North Carolina Mountains. The wife is the titular Serena, an ambitious and intelligent woman who is a good match for her husband and who quickly settles into life in the lumber camp. But as many of her material desires are met, she also faces dissatisfactions due to uncertain investors, the presence of Pemberton’s illegitimate child, and the U.S. government’s attempts to buy land to form Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Her ambitions and cruelty grow. In addition to portraying Serena as a Lady MacBeth-like character, author Ron Rash also presents a look at early environmentalism and shows the harsh and dangerous world of timber labor during the Great Depression. Serena was listed as one of the best books of 2008 by The New York Times, and Publishers Weekly.

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

Comments Off on Ron Rash. Serena. New York: Ecco, 2008.

Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Haywood, Historical, Mountains, Rash, Ron