Charles Frazier had a tough act to follow. His first novel, Cold Mountain, was both a literary and a popular sensation. It has sold more than 4 million copies, inspired a major Hollywood film, and won the National Book Award.
Most of us are sick and tired of hearing about eating disorders and the girls who obsess over food and fitness. It’s impossible to purchase a sack of groceries without passing a magazine asking which celebrities are anorexic while offering to help you shed seven pounds in seven days.
The Iowa farming community where this novel is set is in deep pain. Family farms have been lost to hard times. A way of life passed on from generation to generation can never be lived again. And the Barnes family in particular is coming apart at the seams.
In June 1933, less than six months after Hitler assumed power in Germany, Karl Barth argued that it was important to do “theology and only theology—as though nothing had happened” (Theological Existence Today).
Those paying the $90 price for this commentary in the distinguished Hermenia series can scarcely complain that the book was lightly tossed off. It includes 70 pages of front matter (such as bibliography), 125 pages of back matter (indices and the like) and over 1,000 pages of commentary—actually, given the double-column format, 2,000 pages.