Roanoke Times // Our Top Picks for Summer Reading

Charles Frazier’s new novel, “Varina,” uses fiction to tell the very real story of Varina Davis — wife of Jefferson Davis — and her life following the fall of the Confederacy. She stuck with a loveless marriage, spending more time away from her husband than with him. The story unfolds as Varina, at the end of her life, tells a somewhat mysterious visitor about the family’s flight from Richmond, her struggle to make a living while her husband lived with another woman, and ultimately moving to New York City to write for magazines and newspapers. The book is a great companion to “Winnie Davis,” Heath Lee’s biography of the couple’s daughter that covers the same period.

— Doloris E. Vest, owner of Book No Further, Roanoke’s downtown independent bookstore