"V disdains the sinister politics of the Confederate capital. She endures the nastiness of the city’s society ladies, who ridicule her dark complexion and intellectual enthusiasms. She hates the war and, finally, she hates the South. ('I’ll never return to Richmond until it’s feet first in a box.')"
"Norman Mailer once wrote that a bestseller is 'a perfect clock that ticks to its conclusion.' In Varina, the chronometer is a slow agrarian chase, slyly paced."
"If Frazier succeeds in finding a place for Varina Davis in the popular mind, he raises, through James’ interrogations, the issue of her complicity with evil — her fatal choice, as it were."