I picked up this book at the library because of how much I enjoyed Cold Mountain, also by Frazier. The title character was the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Both books portray the end of the civil war. This story is told by an African American who visits Varina long after the war, in Saratoga Springs. He was rescued by Varina when he was a child being beaten by a shopkeeper for vagrancy. Varina took him in and kept him with her own children until her party was captured by the Yankees. They were trying to make their way to Florida and from there, on to Cuba. I found the story somewhat hard to follow since it doesn’t flow from beginning to end but goes backwards and forwards to cover most of Varina’s life, at least from her teenage years to old age. I had never even heard of her although I of course assumed that Jefferson Davis had a wife and children, since most men of his time, especially elected officials, did. She was quite remarkable in her own right, if this story is to be believed. While not written as non-fiction, it draws on facts, how much is real and how much invented we do not know from this tale alone. I was struck again, as in the prior book Cold Mountain, at the breakdown of society in the aftermath of the war, how it was impossible to tell where anyone’s loyalties lay. How desperate most people were and yet how willing to risk their own lives for a principle many still believed in. Despite the confusion of the time-line I enjoyed the book very much and look forward to the next title by this author.