News of the World by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062409201 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062409225 (ebook)
ASIN: B01122BZNK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Finalist for the National Book Award–Fiction
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.
In the late 1800s, Captain Jefferson Kidd makes a small living riding from town to town reading the news from around the world. Captain Kidd is well known to others that travel from town to town and is for this reason that he asked to escort a German orphan that was abducted by the Kiowa tribe back to her surviving family in San Antonio in Paulette Jiles latest historical fiction novel, News of the World.
Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is in his early seventies. He has fought in wars, worked as a printer, and considered himself a devoted husband and father. His wife has died and both daughters are residing in Georgia. The eldest is married with a son and the youngest is a widow living with her sister. A lifelong devotee to the printed word and possessing a great speaking voice, after the Civil War and the loss of his printing business Captain Kidd turns to the only thing he can think of…work as a traveling news reader. His travels take him from town to town and he gathers national and international newspapers as well as stories from the newswires to keep his audience informed of the happenings around the country and the world. Captain Kidd is initially somewhat reluctant to escort Johanna to her family simply because of the differences in their respective ages, but he needs the money and accepts the job. Along the 400 mile trek, Captain Kidd and Johanna learn a lot from each other and bond as they battle the elements, bad guys, crazy guys, political fights, and more. Upon arriving in San Antonio, Captain Kidd will need to make the toughest decision of his life.
I found News of the World to be a fast-paced and riveting read. I enjoyed learning about Captain Kidd’s early life especially his military careers. Johanna initially comes across as uncivilized and stoic, but we quickly learn that she may be stoic but is far from uncivilized. She is a smart and highly inventive girl and the perfect companion to Captain Kidd despite their ages. I enjoyed the characters (good and bad), the major and minor storylines, the action, and the settings. Ms. Jiles has crafted an immensely enjoyable story where everything works quite well together to the point where it is hard to imagine anything being omitted. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Jiles, but it will not be the last. I’ve already checked out one of her previous books from my local library system and am on the waitlist for two others. If you enjoy realistic historical fiction or just want to read something with a gripping storyline, then I highly recommend you grab a copy of News of the World. I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Jiles in the future.
Meet the author:
Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, TX.
Find out more about Paulette at her website.
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