News of the World by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062409218 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062409225 (ebook)
ASIN: B01122BZNK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 20, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
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 is asked to escort a German orphan that was abducted by the Kiowa tribe back to her family in San Antonio in the historical fiction News of the World by Paulette Jiles.
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 currently 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 newsreader. 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 offered a large sum of money to escort a young girl to her family in Texas. To say that Captain Kidd is somewhat reluctant to escort Johanna to her family is somewhat of an understatement, but he needs the money and reluctantly accepts the job. Along their 400 mile trek, Captain Kidd and Johanna learn a lot from each other and bond as they battle the elements, bad guys, crazy bad guys, and more. Upon their arrival in San Antonio, Captain Kidd will need to make the toughest decision of his life: does he leave Johanna with her only remaining family no matter how unworthy they may be or does he go back on his word and keep her with him?
I initially read News of the World in 2016 when the hardcover was published and jumped at the opportunity to reread it for the paperback release (yes, it is just that good). I’ve got to say that I enjoyed reading News of the World just as much the second time around and found it was still a fast-paced and engrossing read. I was once again entertained while reading about Captain Kidd’s early life and his military careers. Johanna initially comes across as uncivilized and stoic primarily from her time spent with a different culture (namely Native American culture), but we quickly learn that although she is stoic she is far from uncivilized despite initial perceptions. She is a smart and highly inventive girl and the perfect companion to Captain Kidd. I enjoyed the characters (good and bad), the major and minor storylines, the action, and the settings. Ms. Jiles has created an immensely readable story where everything works quite well together to the point where it is hard to imagine anything being omitted. This was the first book I read by Ms. Jiles, but I’ve since then read a few others (and yes, I’ve appreciated them as well). As I said in in my initial review, if you like realistic historical fiction or just want to read something with a gripping, powerful, and moving storyline, then I highly recommend you grab a copy of News of the World. As far as I’m concerned, News of the World is must read fiction at its best! (Just in case you didn’t know, News of the World is being made into a movie starring Tom Hanks as Captain Kidd. I strongly encourage you to read the book before seeing the movie.)
Meet the author:
|Photo by Jill Gann
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 website.
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