October 23, 2006 12:00 PM

By Charles Frazier




Frazier’s commanding second novel is set in the early days of the American frontier. Like Cold Mountain (adapted for the screen in ’03), Thirteen Moons is a literary love story, and it is ambitious in its span of the 19th century. The book follows Will Cooper, a self-taught lawyer who was raised by native Americans. Cooper’s pre-Civil War adventures lead him to meetings with legends including Davy Crockett, John C. Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson, none of whom he particularly admires. But his passion for Claire Featherstone, whom he has known since adolescence, is unwavering and true. “She leaned her forehead against my own, for we were of a similar size,” Cooper says. “We stood together shivering. I could smell her scent, some attar or fragrant water. Lavender. I held her and it was like falling down a well.” Postwar, Cooper cuts a less impressive stride, but his love for and occasional meetings with Claire keep the narrative moving. Frazier’s faithful will not be disappointed.

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