Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 20, 2017)
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.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for News of the World by Paulette Jiles. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it!
News of the World is a Western Historical Fiction novel that takes place in Texas after the civil war. In News of the World we follow Captain Kid, a seventy year old veteran who travels the South making a living literally reading news of the world to audiences. Along his journey he undertakes the daunting task of delivering a young girl who had been kidnapped from her family by the Kiowa. From that day forward they are pretty much inseparable and they form a bond that makes it impossibly hard for him to leave her with people who are virtually strangers.
I have mentioned a few times on this blog that I’m not a fan of westerns, but this year I wanted to move outside of my comfort zone and give some a try. Now I know that I am DEFINITELY not a fan of western romance so you can imagine that attempting to read another western seemed a bit daunting to me but this book was set some in my hometown of San Antonio so I definitely wanted to read it.
It is a testament to the great writing and storytelling of the author that I ended up really enjoying this book. This was literally a page turner for me. Being set in a historical time, it was written in a way that is not common today and felt like I was reading a western classic. Because of that it wasn’t the easiest book to read or the simplest language to read so it took me a bit to get used to it but once I was in, I was in and read the book pretty fast.
Since I am from Texas I absolutely loved reading about the places they visit and some of the history of those places because it’s such a very different landscape than the one I know in present day so that made this book that much more impactful for me. I also just loved the journey these two characters go on together, both the emotional journey and the physical of getting from point a to point b. I am a daddy’s girl at heart so I feel like the bond Captain Kidd and Johanna form during their journey hit me right in the heart. I didn’t know I was attached to them though until I had like five pages left and the story started to wrap up. I loved that ending!
I fluctuate on whether to give this book a 4.5 or a 5 really. It was a great surprise for me and I do recommend giving this book a read if you like westerns or civil war era fiction. This is a great book and I never thought I would say that about a western after my experience with them the past few months. Paulette Jiles changed my mind and I would read another western from her in a heartbeat.
About Paulette Jiles
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.