2020 Book 143: SIMON THE FIDDLER by Paulette Jiles

Simon The Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062966742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062966766 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062966773 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07VCVLNB9   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07V9HHT9H   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 14, 2020


The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women returns to Texas in this atmospheric story, set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

This story is set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty but following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.

Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the fiddler can’t help but notice Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.

After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden and vows that someday he will find her again.

Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.






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Simon Boudlin knows how to play the fiddle and he knows horses. He was raised by his maternal great-uncle, David Anderson, in Paducah, Kentucky, and was set to inherit a well-known horse business until the onset of the Civil War. Sadly, another one of his uncles decided to burn the horse business down rather than sell to the Union Army. With no business to fall back on and not wanting to be conscripted into the army, Simon heads South and West thinking to move far enough away from the fighting. He made it through early 1865 without being caught by either side but is then conscripted into the Confederate Army to play for a military band. Thankfully, his “military duty” isn’t long and he is fortunate enough to meet up with several other musicians. He even meets the woman of his dreams, Doris Dillon. Simon’s brief military duty sets him off on a journey that will take him and his musician friends traveling across Texas. He will search for a place to build his perfect home. And despite all obstacles placed not only in his path but also in Doris’s path, he will do everything possible to court her via mail initially and then in person. As the country struggles to right itself and rebuilt after a war that turned neighbor-against-neighbor and sometimes brother-against-brother, Simon must find a way to restructure and rebuild his life into that matching his dreams.

For those of you that have been following me for some time now, you may remember that I read and reviewed News of the World back in 2017. I was so enamored with that book that I talked every local book group I was involved with into reading that book. So when I heard that Paulette Jiles was coming out with a new book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it before I even knew what it was about and I’m incredibly pleased I did. Although there are similarities between Simon the Fiddler and News of the World, namely both take place after the Civil War and are set in Texas, the primary characters and action are completely different. I can say that Captain Jefferson Kidd from News of the World does make a minor reappearance in Simon the Fiddler and it is as he is beginning his journey as a newsreader. I found Simon the Fiddler to be a riveting read about Simon’s coming-of-age ordeals, from his Kentucky memories to his fist fights and attempts to keep his band of music makers going. Ms. Jiles provided considerable drama with the Yellow fever epidemics, to the sexual harassment of Doris, and more. There’s enough in this historical saga to keep any reader fully engrossed and turning pages. I enjoyed the multiple storylines, the action, the settings, and the characters even the bad guys (and yes, there are bad guys!). For those of you that read News of the World, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I also encourage you to grab yourself a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that have neither read News of the World nor are into historical fiction, I beg of you to rethink your position and start with Simon the Fiddler and then go grab a copy of News of the World to read. You can thank me later. For now, I’ll be ordering a copy of Simon the Fiddler to be shipped to my mother since we’re still in quarantine and I can’t take her my copy (bonus, I get to keep my copy). Seriously, go grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. This one is going on my #mustreadfiction list for 2020! 

Happy Reading, y’all! 
Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print copy via TLC Book Tours. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.  She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.



Find out more about Paulette at her website.




Follow the Blog Tour


Tuesday, April 14th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, April 15th: Lit and Life
Thursday, April 16th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Friday, April 17th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, April 18th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, April 23rd: Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 24th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, April 24th: View from the Birdhouse
Tuesday, April 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, April 29th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, April 30th: Instagram: @shelovesthepages
Friday, May 1st: Staircase Wit
Monday, May 4th: Book by Book
Tuesday, May 5th: Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, May 7th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, May 8th: Kahakai Kitchen




This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2017 Book 210: NEWS OF THE WORLD by Paulette Jiles

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. 


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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.) 

Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via TLC Book Tours. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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.


This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours.



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2016 Book 382: NEWS OF THE WORLD by Paulette Jiles

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 

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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.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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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