Book Review: Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier returns to the American Civil War with Varina, a beautiful blend of fiction and history

1906, Saratoga Springs. A man named James Blake enters The Retreat hotel and asks to see Varina Davis. In his hands he holds a blue book, a book that offers a glimpse into his past. He barely remembers Mrs Davis – V – but he wonders if she remembers him, a small black boy rescued in uncertain circumstances and brought into her home. Wife to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, V recollects her past, and what she can of James’, from the early days of a marriage to a man twice her age, through the Civil War she unwillingly found herself at the heart of, to the years afterwards when she left the South and all its pain behind.

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