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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review - News of the World by Paulette Jiles

News of the World: A Novel

About The Book:

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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My Thoughts:

Seeing as how I live in Wichita Falls, Texas, the town where this story begins, I was so excited to jump into reading Paulette Jiles' mesmerizing book, "News of the World." And I was not disappointed in this fascinating tale.

Jiles mixes history, mystery and thrills as she unveils this story of Captain Jefferson Kidd, and the adventures he faces as he takes on the task of delivering Johanna, a ten year old pioneer girl who had been rescued from the Kiowa Indians, to what is left of her family in San Antonio. Johanna does not go willingly and it's up to Captain Kidd to ease her back into her "white" culture and frame of mind. There's a lot of kicking and screaming during this long trip, and Jiles includes a good bit of humor into this active story.

I was so impressed on the accuracy of the details of the setting of the story. Jiles captures the flavor of North Texas history with perfection, as well as areas along the way to San Antonio. You feel as if you are practically sitting on the wagon with Captain Kidd and Johanna as they rumble across the old dirt roads of Texas. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Readers who enjoy western-flavored, post Civil War era books are also sure to enjoy Paulette Jiles' latest offering.

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About The Author:

Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles is an American poet and novelist. Born in Salem, Missouri, she was educated at the University of Missouri with a degree in Romance Lanugages. Jiles lives in the Texas Hill Country on a small ranch.  Check out her website at

Paulette’s publisher for her books, News of the World, Lighthouse Island, Stormy Weather, Enemy Women and Color of Lightning, is Harper Collins.

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My thanks to Harper Collins for providing the review copy of this book. I was not compensated for my opinions.

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Mystica said...

The subject is new to me. I'd certainly enjoy this one.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I listened to the audiobook. A wonderful story!