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Varina: A Novel (Hardcover)

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In his new novel, Charles Frazier revisits a familiar subject – the Civil War.  He follows the story of one of the hidden characters of the conflict, Varina Howell Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.  Married at a young age to the much-older Davis, Varina follows him through his political rise and fall, placed at the center of what would become a devastatingly painful time in American history.

The novel opens in 1906 Saratoga Springs, where an older, widowed Varina is visited by James, an African American man she had taken in as a child.  She travels through her past with James, recounting their flight through the south at the end of the war, being kept under house arrest as an enemy of the Union, and the deaths, one by one, of five of her children.  She is a strong, determined woman whose life was driven by the ambitions of her husband. 

Frazier brings the war-torn south to life, just as he did in Cold Mountain.  He beautifully evokes the heartbreak and hopelessness of the crumbling Old South, a culture of beauty and gentility that was built on the backs of others.  There are no righteous victors, no malevolent losers here.  Varina is a poignant and engrossing look at the moral questions of a conflicted time and a woman caught between the past and the future.   — Libby Stowell

— Libby Stowell

April 2018 Indie Next List


“In the elegant and compelling prose that made Cold Mountain an award-winning bestseller, Charles Frazier brings to life Varina Howell Davis, the wife of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Varina is told in two voices: Varina's and Jimmie Limber's, the black boy she raises as a son and is forced to abandon as she and her children flee Richmond while the Confederacy crumbles. When Jimmie and Varina reunite years later and relive the cataclysmic events of the war years, they examine the morality and consequences of Varina's - and a nation's - choices. As great literature often does, this novel forced me to look at my own actions and attitudes with a more critical eye.”
— Sarah Goddin, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

Description


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.

 

About the Author


Charles Frazier is the author of Cold Mountain, an international bestseller that won the National Book Award and was adapted into an Academy-Award winning film by Anthony Minghella. He is also the author of the bestselling novels Thirteen Moons and Nightwoods.

Praise For…


“No writer today crafts more exquisite sentences than Charles Frazier.”
— USA Today

“Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details--he has a scholar’s command of the physical realities of early America and a novelist’s gift for bringing them to life.”
— Time

“Charles Frazier’s feeling for the Southern landscape is reverential and beautifully composed.”
— New York Review of Books

“Perfectly evocative . . . A finely wrought novel that will reward rereading. Elegiac without being exculpatory, it is an indictment of complicity without ignoring the historic complexity of the great evil at the core of American history.”
— Washington Post

“Beautifully rendered…Frazier in this, his fourth novel, lyrically resurrects the blasted but hauntingly beautiful Southern landscape just after the war...Varina Davis becomes a marvelously fallible character, complicated enough to stand on her compromised own.”
— The New York Times


Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062405982
ISBN-10: 0062405985
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018
Pages: 368
Language: English

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