Review of News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
This is character-driven historical fiction at its best.
Captain Kidd has fought in three wars, and after the Civil War's end, he serves as a traveling news reader, providing eager listeners along his route with news of the world.
He somewhat reluctantly ends up agreeing to transport a young recently rescued Kiowa captive 400 miles to her extended family. They'll have to pass through lawless lands to get to San Antonio, and Johanna isn't exactly a cooperative traveling companion. (You can almost hear Kidd grumbling "I'm too old for this" in the movie version I'm envisioning.)
I adored every bit of Jiles's story--Captain Kidd's reluctant but gentlemanly involvement and his voice; Johanna as a tough young woman; the vivid Texas setting; the fits and starts of adventure; the noble heart of the story; the humor; the heartbreak.
This is character-driven historical fiction at its best. I loved loved loved it.
What did you think?
Not everyone in my book club adored this as much as I did. But for me, Jiles's story struck all the right chords, and I delighted in watching the tough characters slowly reveal their vulnerabilities.
Jiles also wrote Simon the Fiddler, set after the Civil War, in which Captain Kidd makes a brief appearance, as well as The Color of Lightning, which I adored. I haven't yet read Enemy Women but definitely intend to.