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, Abandoned

Reviews Varina

  • Diane S ☔
    3.5 Frazier one again returns to the Civil War, with mixed reactions from this reader. I freely admit to not knowing what became of some of the principal players after the Southern defeat in said war, so I can in no way pinpoint accuracies or inaccuracies in this telling. This is narrated from the viewpoint of Varina Davis, fleeing Richmond after Lee's surrender. At her side, her remaining children, a young black boy named James, a black woman, a...
  • Diane Barnes
    I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon of every new fiction published, but sometimes, if it's an author I've read before, or if I'm certain there will be reviews and interviews and hype, then I like like to get ahead of the crowd and form an opinion based on the book itself, instead of what others think. That happened with this book, as I loved Cold Mountain 20 years ago, and of course, Civil War historical fiction is right up my alley. The library...
  • Cheri
    "Haven't you seen me sleepwalking 'cause I've been holding your handHaven't you noticed me driftingOhLet me tell you I amTell me it's nothingTry to convince me that I'm not drowningOhLet me tell you I am"Why I am feeling so guiltyWhy I am holding my breathWorry about everyone but me and I just keep losing myselfTell me it's nothingTry to convince me that I'm not drowningOhLet me tell you I am"-- Falling, The Civil Wars, Songwriters: Joy Williams ...
  • 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...
  • Connie
    "Being on the wrong side of history carries consequences. V lives that truth every day."Varina Howell Davis, the wife of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis, was a strong woman who faced many challenges in her life. Set in 1906, the elderly Varina talks about her life with James, a multiracial man, on six Sunday afternoons. When James was four years old, Varina rescued the orphaned boy from an abusive situation. She raised him with her chil...
  • Truman32
    I recently discovered these Civil War letters in the attic from my relative, Jubal Burnside who fought at Shiloh, Chickamauga, and several other bloody campaigns. I have transcribed them in their entirety for your information and interest.“My precious Clara,We are now awaiting steamers to transport the troops to Christiana. The division is to garrison for the rest of the summer, a most disgusting prospect, and a fate I hope to escape. The weath...
  • Laura
    I don’t know how accurate the story is compared to history but Frazier convinced me this is the voice of Varina. Something about NC authors and one name female titles seem to always be a great read. I only lack reading one more Frazier book, all are so different than the other. Highly recommend this author and any one of his books.Update: Listened to Frazier speak last night and he’s absolutely charming. He did take liberties because it’s f...
  • Sara
    By the flow of the inland river, Whence the fleets of iron have fled,Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver, Asleep are the ranks of the dead: Under the sod and the dew, Waiting the judgment-day; Under the one, the Blue, Under the other, the GrayOne of the hardest wars to understand, for me, is the American Civil War. Perhaps it was unavoidable, but it never seems that way. It is so easy to stand outside of it and condemn the South, but the S...
  • Amy Hartle
    I could not find a thread to cling to. 70 pages in and I’m too bored
  • Sterlingcindysu
    Jefferson Davis, Varina and their children are buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.Fun fact--two US presidents are buried there (Monroe and Tyler) and you can have your ashes interred there for $10,000 in President's Circle. It's a very pretty cemetery. Your relations can "visit" you and then go get hot Krispie Kremes! This was a slow book for me. Any book that features a caravan moving by mules that only goes 5-10 miles a day is dragging, a...
  • Rebekah O'Dell
    Not a book for those who love plot, but a delight for those who love character and strange, beautiful sentences. I have rarely read so slowly just to savor the words. One of my favorite books I’ve read in the last ten years!
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • Fred Shaw
    Varina is a beautifully written historical novel by Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain. It is the story of Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, during the American Civil War. The author has a wonderful talent to make the 1860’s live again in landscapes and reverential traditions of the old South. Married at 17 to a man 30 years her senior, Varina’s life was one continuous time of suffering. While married ...
  • Kathryn Bashaar
    I loved Cold Mountain, but this effort by the same author frustrated me. It is a fictionalized memoir of Varina Davis, First Lady of the Confederate State of America. The story is told on multiple timelines. One takes place in 1906, when she is reunited with an African-American man whom she had adopted as her own during the Civil War, but from whom she was separated when Richmond fell. Another follows her harrowing experience as a fugitive as the...
  • Anna
    Varina Davis is witty, intelligent, brave and able to charm those around her. She is also prone to melancholy, which she treats with opiates. Married to Jefferson Davis as a teen, she anticipates life as wife of a Plantation owner, but is instead thrust into Washington politics. As she reminisces of her choice: "At sixteen-other than overwhelming scorn and rage- what do you control? Girls had their bodies and minds. That age, you make choices and...
  • 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...
  • Nicole Alexander
    "Civilization balances always on a keen and precarious point, a showman spinning a fine Spode dinner plate on a long dowel slender as a stem of hay. A puff of breath, a moment’s lost attention, and it’s all gone, crashed to ruination, shards in the dirt. Then mankind retreats to the caves, leaving little behind but obelisks weathering to nubs like broken teeth, dissolving to beach sand.”As a fan of Cold Mountain (which I reread before delvi...
  • David
    This is a mighty fine, fairly traditional piece of historical fiction. The poetic beauty of the language is its strongest element, and there is seldom a page that does not contain something worth slowing down to savor. Frazier's writing is not particularly florid or exotic; he just has a knack for assembling everyday language in a manner that is anything but quotidian.In this book he revisits the American Civil War, territory that served him well...
  • Joy D
    Historical fiction set initially in 1906 about the life of Varina Howell Davis, wife of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, as told to James Blake aka Jimmie Limber, an African American man she had rescued from a brutal beating when he was very young and has not seen in over forty years. He was taken into her household, included as a playmate with her children, and accompanied her family as they fled Richmond as fugitives on the wa...
  • Celia
    Varina, by Charles FrazierCharles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain, has released a new historical fiction about Varina Howell Davis, Jefferson Davis’ wife.SynopsisThe book starts based on the memory of James Blake. As a child in Richmond, James was rescued by V when she saw him being beaten in the streets. Now, James is looking for his rescuer, V, some forty years later, wondering if he will recognize her and she him. They had been separated so...
  • Jody
    The protagonist of Charles Frazier's fourth novel is a remarkable figure, albeit one who has been largely forgotten in the modern historical imagination. For four terrible years, from February 1861-May 1865, Varina Howell Davis was First Lady of the Confederacy. Born into plantation life at Natchez in 1826, Varina's father declared bankruptcy when she was 13, and the family became dependent upon the benefaction of her wealthy maternal relatives. ...
  • Sal
    I’d give this a 3.5. I loved parts so the book, but I don’t love this writing style.
  • 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...
  • Barbara
    Many years ago I read Cold Mountain and remember thinking, it's a good story, but something about it I don't like. This happened again with Varina. I think Frazier's writing is fragmented. It doesn't flow. Again, Varina is an interesting woman and I plan on reading a biography about her. Some of Frazier's insights on war, life, grief, and death were thought-provoking. iIn the current discussions of constitutional interpretation, Jefferson Davis' ...
  • 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!
  • Linda
    I've given a rating of 4 to each of his other three books, but this one he REALLY knocked out of the park. Some years back I visited the Confederate White House and the wonderful museum next door. Nothing was said about Varina that encouraged me to read more about her, which was a shame. We frequently hear all about men and their role in history, but very little about women. Varina's story deserves to be told, and Frazier does an incredible job w...
  • Jane
    Fascinating biographical novel on Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy. The novel is set up as dialogues on a number of Sundays between Varina, now an older woman in her 60s, with James, who had lived with her family and her children. He has kept a notebook about her all these years; it is now August 1906 and he wants her to clarify what he has written and fill in gaps. So the flashbacks and memories begin: life bef...