Frazier, Charles "Varina" - 2018
After falling in love with Charles Frazier's "Cold Mountain", I have read all of his books so far. I had no idea what this book was about, that it followed the life of Jefferson Davis' wife. How much of that is true, I have no idea since I never heard of her before but the other dates and remarks about the people seem to be correct, as I would have expected of this author.
We always know too little about the wives of important historical figures. The saying goes that behind every great man there's a great woman, so I expect there must still be a lot of fantastic stories about great women out there.
I have read quite a few books about the Civil War so far and there is always some different aspect to look at. Because any war always comes down to the people who have to suffer through it.
But even if the subject wouldn't interest me, Charles Frazier deserves to be read because of his beautiful writing, he has a very special way of describing anything around him. I would love for him to publish a new book every year but I guess that would not necessarily be a good idea. So, I just have to wait another couple of years until I can enjoy another one of his great writings.
There is only one thing that bothered me, and this must not necessarily be the author's fault. Varina Davis is always referred to as V in the novel. I guess it saves some paper but you always have to "remember" what her name is and that that's what this abbreviation means. I wouldn't have voted for that option.
From the back cover:
"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 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."