Review 1329: Varina

Cover for VarinaVarina is one of those books that makes me wish Goodreads allowed half stars, because it is better than the books I’ve given three stars (my okay or ho-hum rating) but it’s not quite as good as many books I’ve rated four stars. It is interesting, though, the story of Varina Davis, Jeff Davis’s young wife.

The novel begins when Varina, or V as she is called, as an old woman meets James, a young African-American boy she raised with her own children. At the time of the fall of the Confederacy, Jimmy was taken from her after she was captured.

James comes to see V because he remembers very little of that time and has read some things in a book he wants to ask her about. She is happy to see him, because all of her children have died. He is the last one left. The novel skips backward and forward through incidents in her life as she and James hold a series of conversations.

I found this novel both interesting and touching. I know very little about Jeff Davis and knew nothing of his wife. V seems to have been an unconventional and spirited woman. She led a difficult and sad life.

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10 thoughts on “Review 1329: Varina

  1. Jane March 19, 2019 / 1:46 pm

    I’m afraid I don’t know who Jeff Davis is?

    • whatmeread March 19, 2019 / 1:59 pm

      President of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

  2. Jane March 20, 2019 / 4:14 am

    Quite a big name then! I should start reading on the Civil War, thanks.

  3. Glance-a-book March 21, 2019 / 8:39 pm

    I gave it 4 stars because the character of Varina really came to life for me. I thought the author portrayed her realistically as a complex character. This quote from the book resonated with me. “… life is mostly just what happens. Choice or chance or fate, gods or not. Things happen, we do what we think is in our best interests or just convenient, and then we live with the consequences.”

    • whatmeread March 22, 2019 / 1:27 am

      I liked it well enough, but I have been reading some terrific fiction lately. I have actually liked some other of Frazier’s books a little better.

  4. Naomi March 25, 2019 / 5:12 pm

    I loved Cold Mountain but have never read any of his other books. Have you read any others (besides this one)?

    • whatmeread March 25, 2019 / 5:17 pm

      I liked Thirteen Moons and Nightwoods. Thirteen Moons is a historical novel, and Nightwoods is more of a thriller.

      • Naomi March 25, 2019 / 5:59 pm


  5. Laura's Reviews March 25, 2019 / 6:24 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read this one, but I’m not sure now with your review.

    • whatmeread March 25, 2019 / 6:44 pm

      Well, it’s better than so-so. I think a lot of people would like it.

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