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Publisher's Summary

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 audiobook is a portrait of a woman who comes to realize that complicity carries consequences.

©2018 3 Crows Corporation (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding!

Charles Frazier at his best, weaving history into a fascinating study of individuals in a time of crisis - a remarkable book!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book, but

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No, the narrator is wonderful, but even she can't save the story. The novel jumps back and forth across time in what appears to be a non-linear fashion making the book hard to follow. Additionally, I simply could not become interested. After making it almost halfway through I gave up. Life is too short to force myself to finish a book when there are others begging to be read.

What do you think your next listen will be?

The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Not bad, but jumps back and forth too much.

Being a fan of Civil War history, this did interest me, and, aside from jumping back and fourth to different time periods, it didn't disappoint.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Take me back in time

Wonderful point of view from the wife of Jefferson. Loved the history and the details in the story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • Franklin, GA, United States
  • 05-06-18

Wonderful to hear from a wife’s point of view.

As a southerner I really did enjoy hearing a different perspective on life before and after the war. Most of which I’ve never even thought about. I’ll listen again.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The South I was taught of in school

I grew up in the South but was taught a different, more gentile version of the Civil War. I’m ashamed of the culture I thought I knew and thankful for the opportunity to see the truth. I’ve read Cold Mountain countless times and was excited about this book. I wasn’t disappointed.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good but not up to its billing.

First, this book is not close to the quality as Cold Mountain. It is interesting but can get you confused because it jumps back and forth in time. There are very interesting parts but not enough to keep the reader’s interest.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Stunningly beautiful.

Charles Frazier writes a phrase like no one else. The descriptions let the reader see, feel, taste , smell and hear as if there.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Frazier's writing again compels.

this is one of those few novels I shall read asecond time...next time in print to underline the many great passages.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

skip varina, read nightwoods or 13 moons

Like others, I wanted to like this book. I loved Frazier's first 3 books. So when Varina became available, I bought both the hardback and the audio book. Now, two and half hours into the audio version, I'm almost ready to quit. I keep waiting for a hook, like when Will Cooper is indentured and sent to the trading post (thirteen moons), or when the state man drops the autistic twins off on Luce's doorstep (Nightwoods). Even Cold Mountain was a little slow to start, with the drawn out description of the hospital where Inman convalesced before he got up the gumption to slip out and head home. But Inman got going; and I got curious and started worrying about him and whether he would make it back to Ada.

With Varina, I'm having a hard time mustering any sympathy or fear or desire to know more. I'm tired of her banal anecdotes about meeting former presidents and various southern generals, living in shoddy parts of London, her dull recollection of her escape, and her recall of the boy - who now grown - comes to visit her and prompts the story to begin in the first place. I keep thinking that the story will take off and get interesting. But, i'm thinking more and more that it's not going to happen.

The narration is decent. At least the narrator doesn't get in the way or make me cringe. I can listen without having to think about her. She just doesn't add anything extra that would elevate the experience as opposed to simply reading the book myself.

As for now, I'll keep listening to Varina. And I"ll revise my review if I survive the remaining 9&1/2 hours.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful