Official Review: Varina Davis by Beverly Grasley

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Tomah
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Official Review: Varina Davis by Beverly Grasley

Post by Tomah » 23 Sep 2019, 12:38

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Varina Davis" by Beverly Grasley.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Varina Davis, written by Beverly Grasley, follows Varina, the wife of Jefferson Davis (who led the Confederate States of America). The reader is introduced to Varina as a teenager who joins the wealthy Joseph Davis and his family for the Christmas holiday. She becomes engaged to Jefferson, Joseph’s brother, and embarks with him on a political journey that will change their lives and the lives of many other people.

The story takes place between 1843 and 1881. It’s divided into three parts: the years before the American Civil War, the Confederacy period, and the aftermath. Though the narration is told in the third-person point of view, Varina Davis is a deeply personal tale that chronicles the lives of Varina and her family and friends. Jefferson himself is portrayed more as a husband and father than a president.

Everything in the novel feels authentic, from the setting and dialogue to the smallest details of clothing. It’s a well-researched book that manages to draw the reader into the story through its vivid descriptions. The only exception is the third part of the novel, which feels somewhat rushed; several months and years take place in the span of a few paragraphs.

Historical novels can fall into the trap of being too dense for casual readers, but this book usually avoids this issue. Lots of names are thrown around, but the characters are recontextualized whenever necessary. For example, instead of simply referring to William Emory, a man who had been introduced a few pages ago, the novel mentions that he’s Jefferson’s old friend from West Point, which helps the reader remember him.

There are many interesting characters in the book, though Varina is the most explored and developed. She’s a strong but complex woman who tries to act as a pillar to her children and the community even when everything seems to be falling apart. Other notable characters include her stoic husband Jefferson and her boisterous friend Mary.

Sadly, the book features many errors, from misspelled words to missing or extraneous punctuation. They’re mostly minor typographical issues, but it’s a shame that an otherwise great book has such poor editing. Because of these errors and the somewhat lackluster final portion of the novel, I rate Varina Davis 3 out of 4 stars.

The novel is suitable for young teenagers since there are no profanities or mature content. There are, however, dated words like “Negro.” I recommend the book to history lovers, especially those interested in the American Civil War. You don’t need to be very knowledgeable about the topic, but you might have to research things like the Oregon dispute.

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Varina Davis
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Michelle Fred
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Post by Michelle Fred » 30 Sep 2019, 05:32

I enjoyed reading your review; it's very detailed and smooth. But I'm not sure about the book, the information it contains is not a subject I'm interested in. Thanks anyway.

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Tomah
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Post by Tomah » 30 Sep 2019, 12:08

Michelle Fred wrote:
30 Sep 2019, 05:32
I enjoyed reading your review; it's very detailed and smooth. But I'm not sure about the book, the information it contains is not a subject I'm interested in. Thanks anyway.
I have to admit I wasn't that interested in the American Civil War either, but the book still hooked me. Thanks for the comment!

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Post by Prisallen » 30 Sep 2019, 14:32

This sounds like a wonderful way to learn more history regarding Jefferson Davis and his family. Varina Davis seems like a very stong woman, and I think I would enjoy reading about her. It's too bad about the errors, though. Thanks for a great review, as always, Tomah!

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Post by rumik » 30 Sep 2019, 16:46

The setting doesn't really grab my attention, but your review certainly does. If a book manages to get me interested in a topic like this, it must be great. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Meg98 » 30 Sep 2019, 21:29

I'm not sure this book is for me, but thank you for this great review! Cheers:)
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Post by Wyland » 01 Oct 2019, 08:32

This story on the American Civil War will be an interesting one especially as it's being narrated from Varina, the wife of Jefferson. Thanks for the nice review.

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Post by kdstrack » 01 Oct 2019, 10:29

Your description of the writing as authentic and the vivid descriptions make me think the author put in the necessary hours of research to write this novel. This looks like a wonderful book to broaden my understanding of the Civil War. Great recommendation. Thanks!

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Post by Tomah » 01 Oct 2019, 11:41

rumik wrote:
30 Sep 2019, 16:46
The setting doesn't really grab my attention, but your review certainly does. If a book manages to get me interested in a topic like this, it must be great. Thanks for the review!
Meg98 wrote:
30 Sep 2019, 21:29
I'm not sure this book is for me, but thank you for this great review! Cheers:)
Wyland wrote:
01 Oct 2019, 08:32
This story on the American Civil War will be an interesting one especially as it's being narrated from Varina, the wife of Jefferson. Thanks for the nice review.
kdstrack wrote:
01 Oct 2019, 10:29
Your description of the writing as authentic and the vivid descriptions make me think the author put in the necessary hours of research to write this novel. This looks like a wonderful book to broaden my understanding of the Civil War. Great recommendation. Thanks!
Prisallen wrote:
30 Sep 2019, 14:32
This sounds like a wonderful way to learn more history regarding Jefferson Davis and his family. Varina Davis seems like a very stong woman, and I think I would enjoy reading about her. It's too bad about the errors, though. Thanks for a great review, as always, Tomah!
Thanks for the comments! It's a pretty great book regardless of your previous interest in the American Civil War (though history buffs will likely enjoy it even more).

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Post by unamilagra » 01 Oct 2019, 21:13

This sounds like the kind of historical fiction I enjoy, where the writing really makes the reader feel like they are in the time period. Great review!

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Tomah
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Post by Tomah » 02 Oct 2019, 10:43

unamilagra wrote:
01 Oct 2019, 21:13
This sounds like the kind of historical fiction I enjoy, where the writing really makes the reader feel like they are in the time period. Great review!
Yes, the novel definitely sucks you in; you might enjoy this if you like historical fiction. Thanks for the comment!

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