Recently, I finished reading “Thirteen Moons,” a 2006 novel by Charles Frazier. Frazier also wrote the novel “Cold Mountain,” which was made into a 2003 movie starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger.
“Cold Mountain” also has been produced as an opera.
I’ve never read “Cold Mountain” or seen the movie or opera. No real reason why. I just haven’t.
My mother-in-law gave me “Thirteen Moons” as a Christmas gift, along with another novel, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” by Gabrielle Zevin. I read the latter a few months ago and loved it.
Without spoiling much, if anything, it’s the sweet story of a middle-aged bookstore owner and widower, A.J. Fikry, who unexpectedly acquires a child.
“Thirteen Moons” is the story of Will Cooper. Will is an orphan and indentured servant — he calls himself a “bound boy” — sent to the North Carolina mountains, just outside of the Cherokee Indian territory, to run a trading post in the early 1800s.
When he tells his life story, Will is an old man. The story follows Will through the 19th and early 20th centuries, during which he has lots of adventures and misadventures, and one lifelong love.
The book, for which Frazier appears to have done his research, also deals with the Indian Removal Act, a law signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1830 with the goal of moving Indians from the southern U.S. to Oklahoma and points west of the Mississippi.
There were two passages in “Thirteen Moons” that struck me, so much so that I took time to write them down on a note card I was using for a bookmark.
In this one, Will is looking back on his life and how he lived it:
But I’d rather think I made my way more like a highwayman, by being willing to pull a pistol — or something metaphorically like it — on the world when I needed to.
I liked that one a lot. It’s an empowering reminder that sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and fight for yourself because no one is going to save you but you.
And this one, on how one might spend their last day:
If you knew that tomorrow afternoon the sun would flame up and consume all the world, would you spend the time between now and then praising the beauty of creation or would you sit in a darkened room cursing God with your last breath?
I’d like to think that if I ever found myself in that situation, literally or metaphorically, I’d make the most of that last day.
It brings to mind times when husband John and I are on vacation, often in New Mexico or somewhere else in the American West. On our last day, we usually take a long drive, trying to make it to some far-off place we haven’t been yet, cramming it all in, like we might never have another chance to do it.
Realistically, morbid as it sounds, we might never have another chance. For the most part, I think life should be lived like that — like at any point, literally or metaphorically, you could be hit by a bus.
In short, though, I enjoyed “Thirteen Moons” very much and recommend it.
The black-and-white featured photo, used above, is of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, taken between 1895 and 1910. Citation: Detroit Publishing Co, P., Jackson, W. H., photographer. [Over the mts. from Mt. Toxaway, Sapphire, N.C]. Blue Ridge Mountains North Carolina Sapphire, None. [Between 1895 and 1910] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/det1994013352/PP/.