This book has been hailed by many as a fine example of modern literary fiction, and I have to agree with that assessment. I was drawn in by the aspect of a historical novel that was set in the North Carolina Mountains I love so much, and I kept reading because I was drawn in by Frazier’s way with words and the ability to paint a picture for the reader. One could almost believe that the author was actually there and witnessed these events.
Frazier uses the life story of the fictional Will Cooper to tell the larger story of a tumultuous 19th century and the immense challenges faced by the Cherokee during that time. At the age of twelve Cooper is sold into indentured servitude and left alone to run a trading outpost on The Nation, Cherokee territory. Though his presence there is an uneasy one at first, eventually he is adopted into a local tribe and establishes a close relationship with the tribal leader, Bear. As his life story progresses he finds his family, finds and loses the love of his life, fights in a war that is not his, makes and loses his fortune, and more. He becomes a business man, a tribal leader, a politician, a lobbyist, and a traveler. Throughout his life he struggles to find his way as a person who was born into the world of white men but came to manhood in the world of Indians.
Told as if Will Cooper himself had sat down in his old age and written down every part of his life that he could remember, this is a novel that will keep you turning the pages to the very end; and then perhaps wishing for a bit more.