Varina by Charles Frazier


In his powerful fourth novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War.With her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects a life of security as a Mississippi landowner. He instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing ...

Details Varina

Release DateApr 3rd, 2018
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Military History, Civil War, Adult, War

Reviews Varina

  • Melissa Crytzer Fry
    Early reviews of this book are mixed; but being the enthusiast that I am for Civil War-era fiction and strong female protagonists, I really enjoyed it. That this novel is based on a real person in history makes it doubly interesting (though I would have liked to have known which parts were based on fact and which were fictionalized. Perhaps the final version, unlike the ARC, will reveal some of this information in an Author’s Note). Just Google...
  • KC
    There is much we know about the Civil War-the North fighting the South, brother fighting brother, but many of us may be unaware as to what happened to Jefferson Davis, to his wife and family after the Confederacy falls. Charles Frazier allows us a glimpse into the life of Varina Howell, a young educated woman who marries a much older Davis along with the pains and sufferings of war, loss, family, and the struggle between humans. While we move bac...
  • Amy Hartle
    I could not find a thread to cling to. 70 pages in and I’m too bored
  • Dale Cousins
    I am a huge fan of Charles Frazier, having loved Cold Mountain so many years ago (Ruby is one of my favorite characters of all times!!). I was delighted to receive an advanced copy of his new novel, Varina, which is a historical account of Varina Howell Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis. The book is the story of who Mrs. Davis was, how she came to be wed at such an early age to a much older man, the rise to Washington and then Confederate politi...
  • Julie
    One does not expect to have sympathy for the First Lady of the Confederacy, one does not expect to care one whit for her pain and suffering. Frazier does the impossible. There are few books that I intend to read again in the future, this is one.
  • Dan Radovich
    Oh what a joy to read the gorgeous prose of Frazier again. With so many people today screaming 'Tear down the statues' in America's South, who would imagine a novel detailing the life of The First Lady of the Confederacy? The impeccable language which Frazier uses to tell his tale is a testament to his skill. You can hear the cadence of each character in your mind as you read Varina's story. She imagined a life of ease being the wife of a well-to...
  • Stephanie Crowe
    Absolutely lovely writing! Frazier has deftly penned a fascinating narrative about Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Varina through the storytelling skills of Frazier. It was marvelous! Loved this story!
  • Pamela
    Frazier's best after "Cold Mountain." Interesting format and beautiful writing. It may take a bit of effort, but you really get to know Varina, the wife of Jefferson Davis during and after the Civil War.
  • Brian Wraight
    Very disappointing. If Cold Mountain is a 10 and Nightwoods is an 8 and Thirteen Moons (which I didn’t finish) is a 3 then I would say Varina (which I also didn’t finish) is a 4.
  • Dana
    Frazier's Varina is a fascinating woman; spirited and feisty. She's intelligent and witty, so much more so than her husband. She's also racist, although she doesn't really believe she is, even at the end of her life. Despite this, she's begrudgingly likable. Whether or not this was true of the actual woman, I cannot say. Frazier's writing is superb. Although there is very little dialogue to be found, it is quite nicely paced. The story jumps arou...
  • Sara
    When Charles Frazier decided to write about the life of Varina Davis, he knew faced a challenge.The widow of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, isn’t well known. And Frazier thought the most interesting years of her life came after the Civil War.As a widow, Varina Davis took a job writing for The New York World and did what she could to heal the psychological wounds caused by the war.Because her twilight years were...
  • Angel
    If you think there is nothing new or even useful left to be said about the Civil War, you need to read Varina. Frazier uses the real First Lady of the Confederacy, Varina Davis, to tell the story of the war and its sad denouement. The broad outlines of the story are true: Mississippi-born Varina Howell married much-older Jefferson Davis after having been educated in Philadelphia. She never thought the South could win and secretly considered the w...
  • Joshua Gross
    As someone who's lived in Mississippi, gone to a school named after Jefferson Davis, and visited the Beauvoir house, I was surprised by how little I actually knew about Jefferson Davis. I knew even less about his wife. This book, like Cold Mountain, is both beautiful and slightly pretentious, reveling in the drama and 'romance' of the old South while still trying to condemn it. It also looks at its subjects as human beings, though, not as one sid...
  • Douglas Fugate
    The historical novel of Varina Davis, First Lady of the Confederacy. Mrs. Davis recalls her life, looking back as a senior citizen. The war is long past. Her husband and all of her children have died. Her best friend, Mary Chestnut, has also died.This is a very believable story woven around well-documented events and personalities. The tale begins with Varina’s attempt to escape Richmond and the fall of the Confederacy. Her story covers the ant...
  • Suzanne
    Author Charles Frazier’s lyrical and inspired writing continues in his newest book set in the South in the second half of the 19th century. The subject of his interest, beyond the geography he holds so dear, is Varina Davis, the second wife of Jefferson Davis, and a captivating, wholly engaging personality unto herself. In fact, she only spent half of her 45-year long marriage actually living with her husband; theirs was a union separated as mu...
  • Lynn
    Varina [or V, as she is known for much of the novel], is the wife of Jefferson Davis. She calls him Jeff. They live in comparative luxury in the southern United States until the states are no longer united, and Jeff is asked to be president of the newly-formed Confederate States. Then comes the war which tears the Union apart, and, along with it, the Davis marriage. V has an unexpected visitor to the hotel in England where she lives. A young man ...
  • Kristin
    Hmmmmm. I often feel like Charles Frazier tries too hard to be literary. So that's one thing. And though I am a big fan of non-linear timelines, I think for Varina's story I would have preferred chronology. On the other hand, I did kind of like how it was framed by her reflections as an old woman in New York.I wonder how much research went into this book. Everything I see about Varina online and on book sites seems to focus on her as First Lady o...
  • Lisa Burris
    As someone with a deep interest in Civil War history, I know admittedly little about the lives of Jefferson Davis and his wife, Varina. That lack, in part, spurred me to read Varina, not to mention how much I loved Frazier's classic, Cold Mountain.Varina, this fictionalized account that shifts back and forth in time between the early 1900s, when the title character is an elderly woman living in New York, and her escape from Richmond with her chil...
  • Tracy
    A very interesting view of the life of a reviled figure in history, and yet, somewhat like the Nixon scandal, eventually the haters faded away. I was quite surprised by the use of opium by a Southern lady in those times, and quite impressed by the dr who told her "Mania = Fury Melancholia = Fear" Very understanding of the time and conditions. I like that Charles Frazier gets pretty earthy with his descriptions, Cold Mountain was no Gone With the ...
  • Janis
    I wasn’t expecting to find much of interest in this woman from the wrong side of history but Frazier’s fictional treatment of the life of Varina Howell Davis had me captivated. A story about power, women, and race, told by the woman who occupied the Confederate White House, its premise is a reunion between Varina and a black man who once lived as a child in her household. Pub date is in April 2018.
  • Candy
    Disappointing. Nothing to grab me. A story I didn't feel compelled to read. I love Cold Mountain and Frazier's writing but not Varina. Couldn't even finish although I tried. A retelling of history from Jefferson Davis wife point of view but the characters were flat and uninteresting. Darn I was really looking forward to this read.
  • Chrissy
    This book was a real disappointment given the subject & a total struggle for me to finish. It was all over the place, I usually enjoy going back & forth in time but that's when the author brings the reader with them not leaving them confused which I felt this book did a lot. Varina Davis, her personality, her life makes a very interesting subject but this book really fell flat for me.
  • Mary
    I took me a few chapters to get into the cadence of this story. But once I did, I was mesmerized. Charles Frazier has brought the aftermath of the Civil War into clear view telling the story through the eyes of Varina Davis, the wife of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
  • Lehtomaki