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The new novel from the number one bestselling author of Cold Mountain – a stunning portrait of the devastation left by the American Civil War, as seen through the eyes of a woman who played a part at the heart of it.

Sooner or later, history asks: which side were you on?

‘Moving’ Sunday Times

‘Here’s a woman of the Civil War to outshine Scarlett O’Hara’ The Times

‘Beneath the chilling, photogenic story, the writing remains beautiful’ – Independent

With her marriage prospects ruined in the wake of her father’s financial decline, teenage Varina Howell decides her best option is to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects a life of security as a Mississippi landowner. When he instead pursues a career in politics and is appointed President of the Confederacy, it puts Varina at the white-hot centre of one of the darkest moments in American history – culpable regardless of her intentions.

As the Confederacy prepares to surrender and she finds herself friendless and alone, Varina and her children escape Richmond. With her marriage in tatters and the country divided, they travel south, now fugitives with ‘bounties on their heads, an entire nation in pursuit’.


Riveting...this is a sharp, evocative novel
Publishers Weekly
Superb...Frazier's historical research generally sits lightly on the story, almost always embedded gracefully in dialogue, a small telling incident or a sharp memory of kindness or brutality. His prose is both of the characters' time and perfectly evocative... A finely wrought novel that will reward re-reading. Elegiac without being exculpatory, it is an indictment of complicity without ignoring the historic complexity of the great evil at the core of American history.
Washington Post
Frazier is a superb prose stylist who elevates the historical fiction genre...his writing can be breathtaking
USA Today
A splendid historical novel just right for our time
Riveting...this is a sharp evocative novel
Publishers Weekly
Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details - he has a scholar's command of the physical realities of early America and a novelist's gift for bringing them to life
Frazier is a writer whose spare prose paradoxically oozes atmosphere - you can almost smell the verdant pine trees and hear the crack of the twigs underfoot . . . Beneath the chilling, photogenic story, the writing remains beautiful.
'[A] fine historical novel ... A strong human story and, in the capable hands of Frazier, the author of Cold Mountain, is both emotionally engaging and rich in historical insights.
Mail on Sunday
Sunday Times
Frazier's elegant prose and vivid, dreamy conjuring of V's youth and her attempted exodus has an air of romance about it ... Fascinating.
New Statesman
Here's a woman of the Civil War to outshine Scarlett O'Hara
A visceral, powerfully written evocation both of the beaten South at the nadir and of one of its more unusual survivors.
Daily Mail
The narrative is sweeping and Frazier has a beautiful style of writing.
Press Association
Frazier's writing is, as ever, spectacular in place.
Scotland on Sunday
Elegant, elegiac prose
Sunday Express S Magazine
Clear-sighted depiction of culpable leaders in a divided America.