A Novel

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:

Sooner or later, history asks, which side were you on?

In his powerful new novel, Charles Frazier returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War

Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history—culpable regardless of her intentions.

The Confederacy falling, her marriage in tatters, and the country divided, Varina and her children escape Richmond and travel south on their own, now fugitives with “bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit.”

Intimate in its detailed observations of one woman’s tragic life and epic in its scope and power, Varina is a novel of an American war and its aftermath. Ultimately, the book is a portrait of a woman who comes to realize that complicity carries consequences.


Publisher: New York, NY :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062834386
Characteristics: 356 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jun 12, 2018

I didn’t know much about the wife of the Confederate State President, Jefferson Davis, but now I do. I think she’s a person I’d like to know and I would love to have Oprah interview. Varina was an intelligent, strong willed woman who was comfortable in her skin. She didn’t rely on a man to shape her personality. I wonder if she’d have been the US Senator instead of her husband, if history would have been different.

Jun 11, 2018

This is a book you read for eloquent language and sentence structure. Frazier can share a lot of historical detail in just a sentence or two. One can only imagine the amount of research he did to let you know that a child's doll was used for smuggling morphine. Set during the last year of Varina Davis' life, Frazier uses the device of a grown-up child who visits an important figure of his past to delineate his own life pattern. In a series of Sunday visits, Varina relays her life experiences from childhood to the present for the reader. History, as told through Varina's eyes, becomes intimate, personal, and often cynical and cutting about the motives and actions of Civil War era politicians. Her views and opinions paint a very complex picture of a turbulent time in American history.

May 01, 2018

Read 50 pages then reluctantly gave up. I couldn't get into it.

Apr 17, 2018

Lost interest, just seemed to go on and on


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top