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Simon the Fiddler

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  5,365 ratings  ·  1,151 reviews
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 barr
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by William Morrow
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Peter 1. The LA Times review might make you think so, but not really. The story does connect to News of the World in a way that made me smile. You certainly…more1. The LA Times review might make you think so, but not really. The story does connect to News of the World in a way that made me smile. You certainly don't need to read News of the World first, but I would urge you to read it sometime. It's still Jiles's best.
2. The protagonist is tough when he needs to be but also warm and kind. Hanks would be fine with that. It's hard to think of any role Hanks hasn't played well. But the protagonist is a young-looking, 23-year-old man wooing an 18-year-old. If I were casting, that might give me pause.(less)
Susanna Captain Kidd, who is the main character in News of the World, makes an extremely brief appearance in Simon the Fiddler. He shares a drink and conversa…moreCaptain Kidd, who is the main character in News of the World, makes an extremely brief appearance in Simon the Fiddler. He shares a drink and conversation with Simon and another man at a social function. Others here on Goodreads have mentioned that Simon is mentioned in News of the World. It's been too long since I've read that book to remember.

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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Angela M
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
News of the World is one of my favorite books . I’ve been remiss since I read it by not reading more by Paulette Jiles. With this novel, I am once again inspired to get to the others that I haven’t yet read because I found the writing here to be lovely and the characters wonderful, even though it took a while for me to connect with them.

Simon is a young man from Kentucky who travels around playing his music, trying to avoid conscription into the Confederate Army, until he finally is caught in T
Will Byrnes
It was different then. The air was different and the long remote crying of the steamboat whistles as they came down from the Monongahela and Pittsburgh seemed to tell the story of a great nation and a great people with adventure and the look of distance in their eyes, and now it was somehow soiled with the stench of the dead. MacFarland was dead. Lincoln was dead. Neighbors had shot one another dead. It occurred to him that he rarely laughed anymore. Maybe laughter would come back, but it was
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow, all I can say now is that I loved it ....
A big thank-you to Paulette Jiles, William Morrow & Edelweiss !
Diane S ☔
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 The Civil War is near the end. Simon, had managed, helped by looking younger than his years, to escape having to serve in either army. His luck runs out, when the conscriptors, grab him and he finds himself in the Confederate army, playing music in a rag tag regimental band. There he will meet two other musicians and a young boy who pretended to be older than his actual age. At wars end these four will set out together trying to make a living, playing here and there. Simon has a goal, he has ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

This was a 3 and ½ rounded up to a 4 for the wonderful premise and writing.

I so wanted to love this book as much as I did News of the World. I love Paulette Jiles writing, it is so beautifully descriptive. I felt the atmosphere of the end of the civil war in Texas, the poverty, the destruction, the loss of homes and really their way of life is gone. I just didn’t feel the connection to Simon as I did to Captain Kidd in News of the World.

We learn that Simon had be
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

Atmospheric - yes
Beautifully Written - Yes
Wonderfully researched - yes
Tale of struggles - yes
Spot on Descriptions - yes
Attention to detail – yes
Transports the reader to another time - yes

And yet, I felt this book went on and on and on - especially in the middle. I enjoyed News of the World and this was not as enjoyable as that book for me. Even with the research, the beautiful writing, and her attention to the harsh, dirty, gritty time that her characters lived in, I never felt a connection to t
Elyse  Walters
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shouting, fighting, swearing, drinking, drunks, smoking, bells of churches, armed men, slipping discipline, gambling, and music.... shine the light over the characters.

Some of the dialogue made me laugh... but the characters ‘needed’ distractions ( music, alcohol, cigarettes, and music), shinning over them....because they, themselves were a little dull.

The most outstanding qualities about the characters were their ages, height, weight, and birthplace.
Not enough to build a story with in my opini
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved the title. I found the time period and setting interesting. The writing was good. But I just couldn’t get into the story. Unfortunately, reading Simon the Fiddler felt like a real slog to me. In his early 20s, Simon is an orphan making his way through the south toward the end of the American Civil war. He is conscripted against his will, and meets a small group of other musicians. Once the war ends, they make their way into Texas, as Simon tries to find Doris, a young Irish maid he caugh ...more
Joy D
Protagonist Simon Boudlin is serving as a regimental musician in the Confederate Army. His unit surrenders to Union forces after one of the last skirmishes of the American Civil War. He briefly meets his love interest, Miss Dillon, an immigrant from Ireland, at a musical performance. She is an indentured governess to a Union colonel and his family.

To make a living, Simon relies on his fiddle. He journeys around Texas with a group of fellow musicians. His goal is to save money, buy land, and fin
Lori Keeton

I was very excited to easily pick up Simon the Fiddler at my library and couldn’t wait to get to it in my stack because Ms. Jiles’ News of the World had stolen my heart with joy a few years ago. The saga of young Simon takes place in Texas during the last days of the Civil War beginning with the last skirmish at the Battle of Los Palmitos. He has avoided conscription until now, making his way from Kentucky to Texas playing his fiddle for a living. After the war ends, Simon begins a journey throu
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

To say that I struggled with rating this book is an understatement. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the writing! Paulette Jiles is a masterful writer who has the ability to transport the reader to a completely different time and place — in this case, Texas in 1865, right after the Civil War — through her atmospheric prose. With the realistic descriptions of the desolate landscape that Simon and his ragtag band travel through, areas mostly devastated by war but yet still contained gl
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss-2020, 2020
3.75 musical stars (rounded up)

Being a huge fan of “News of the World” – I was super excited to read this new book from Paulette Jiles. I did enjoy this one, but admittedly it has a slower pace and the first half took me a while to read.

This one is set at the very end of the Civil War and features Simon, a fiddler, who must be extremely resilient to survive the turbulent times. Simon is just 23 years old and has somehow evaded serving time in the Confederate Army. His luck runs out in Texas and
Simon Boudlin is a fiddler by trade. He looks younger than his 23 years and has used that fact to avoid having to fight in the Civil War. Finally near the end of the war in 1865 his luck runs out and he is conscripted into the Confederate army in Texas. Simon glimpses a young Irish immigrant, Doris Dillon, and it’s instalove. After a while Simon, without being formally discharged, and 3 companions decide to travel together as a band. The band goes from place to place. Doris also goes from place ...more
Ron Charles
Jiles’s new novel takes place about five years earlier, as the Civil War is winding down. Although a slightly younger Captain Kidd makes a cameo appearance, “Simon the Fiddler” is not so much a prequel to “News of the World” as a companion to it.

Our hero, Simon Boudlin, is a spunky, red-headed musician who has managed to avoid fighting in the war because he can pass for a 15-year-old boy. Also, people love to hear him play so much that they’re inclined to protect him, even hide him — a reminder
DJ Sakata
My Rating:


Favorite Quotes:

I am faithful to my friends and you can go to hell and shovel ashes.

She must take great care. Trust in God, her mother said, but never dance in a small boat.

Damon watched amazed as the man touched his hat and stood aside, but then this was the way of it when somebody carried a musical instrument, who knows why but they treat you like a woman carrying a baby. That plus a threatening glare would clear the way. Soldiers and others watched them pass with interested looks
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Simon was able to avoid being conscripted during the war between the states, but on one of his fiddling events he was caught and sent to the front.

Luckily he was conscripted at the very end, and being in the band had allowed him to do a show when the war ended. At the show he saw a girl he couldn’t keep his eyes off of, and a girl he had to ask around about. He made it his job to earn some money and come back for her.

He snuck out of the army compound without discharge papers and headed to the Ri
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I adored Jiles’ News of the World and was looking forward to this atmospheric novel taking place in Texas at the conclusion of the Civil War. It does not live up to the brilliance of News, but it is a heartwarming story nevertheless.

The Kentucky orphan Simon has avoided conscription for most of the war, but in March of 1865 he is caught and conscripted into the Confederate Army along with his prized Markneukirche fiddle. The war ends while his regiment is in Texas. There he puts together a ‘scra
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Paulette Jiles has quickly become my favorite American historical fiction author despite the fact she writes about time periods and places I would not normally read about— except her prose draws me in and I quickly forget anything but her time, her place and her characters.

If you read and enjoyed News of the World, I promise you will enjoy this book just as much. And as a nod to Jiles’ earlier book, Captain Kidd makes a short appearance here.

I believe it will be a real challenge to meet a more
Simon the Fiddler was another riveting account of the settling of the American West in the state of Texas in the years at the close of the Civil War, and all of the tumult it encompassed, written in beautiful and descriptive prose as Paulette Jiles does so well. I have lived my life in the American West, and as such, gravitate toward literature that describes the history and magic of this vast and incredible country and its people.

This is the story of young Simon Boudlin from Paducah, Kentucky
Music is key in this story, and that was where I was most engaged. Simon just wanted to be in a band! That makes him relevant to every person who ever just wanted to be in a band! I remember those days. . .

Added to that overriding desire, Simon's life is complicated by the Civil War that is moments away from officially ending, and then taking years to actually end. So many people on both sides didn't get the word that fighting was done, or didn't want to get the work that fighting should be don
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Music is a magical tonic that opens doors in minds and hearts. I was late to the party in reading "News of the World," so when I saw this new book from Paulette Jiles pop up on NetGalley I jumped at the chance to read it before publication. With Simon, the fiddler, we once again are transported to Texas in the aftermath of the Civil War. What I really liked about this book was the tremendous sense of place and time that you get from Jiles in her evocative prose. You can see what Simon sees with ...more
Jenny Baker
3.5 stars

I didn’t realize until about a week ago that Paulette Jiles had a new book out. I loved News of the World, so I immediately jumped onto my library’s Overdrive website and placed a hold on the audiobook. I love reading books that take place in the 19th century and I enjoy Paulette Jiles’s writing style. Also, Grover Gardner does a fantastic job narrating the audiobook as he always does. Even though the book has elements that I love, I just didn’t love this one as much as News of the Worl
Laura • lauralovestoread
I read a lot of historical fiction, so I was very excited at the prospect of this storyline set in the 1800s at the turn of the Civil War. I wanted to love this book, and really tried, but in the end this just wasn’t for me.

The story just never really picked up for me and I felt like I was trudging through without getting the details of a character study I usually need with historical fiction.

*thank you William Morrow for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

You can read all of my reviews at

Another gorgeous book from Paulette Jiles set in Texas in the aftermath of the Civil War. The book is so beautifully written I was transported back in time and felt like I was in the room with the characters and experiencing the story with them.

Fiddler Simon Boudlin evaded serving in the military during most of the Civil War. Slight in statue and baby faced, he looked too young to serve. If anyone doubted that, Simon had
switterbug (Betsey)
Paulette Jiles impressed me with her writing style, her flair for period prose, and historical atmospherics in her lyrical novel, NEWS OF THE WORLD. Here again, she shines in her confident writing skills and cinematic sense of place and time. Jiles’ life on a ranch near San Antonio and her talent playing the Irish tin whistle no doubt brings her close to the landscape and musical components of this novel. I admit to being carried away by the rich and descriptive settings of 1865 Texas and the ha ...more
Jim Angstadt
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I love the way the author describes the time and place of this book. It was the same feeling as in "News of the World". We see how the time, place, and circumstances shape the individuals, or more properly, how the individuals adapt to the situations. Simon was almost too darn adaptable. Yet one never stops rooting for him to attain what he wants. ...more
Book Concierge
Digital audiobook performed by Grover Gardner

Simon Boudlin made a brief first appearance in Jiles’ The News Of the World . In this work, he is the focus of the story. Set in Texas at the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the reconstruction period, Jiles follows Simon and his band of iterant musicians as they try to stay alive and out of trouble, and as Simon tries to win the heart of Doris, an indentured immigrant Irish lass, who works as governess for the family of a Union officer.

Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This stylish Western is a delightful read. It's set in post-Civil War Texas, primarily around San Antonio. The fiddler protagonist and his love interest, an Irish girl, only add to the fun. The vivid landscape is admirable. Recommended. ...more
Julie  Durnell
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A solid 4 star read. What a delightful adventuresome story of Simon, the fiddler, his musical cohorts and others in the aftermath of the Civil War in Texas. Simon's steadfast pursuit of the love of his life, Doris, a girl from Ireland, is wonderfully told. ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
After loving Jiles’ News of the World, it was more than a little disappointing that I couldn’t get even a fifth of the way into this one before setting it aside. While the historical backdrop was fascinating and well described – a hapless fiddler gets drafted into the Confederate army in the dying days of the Civil War - said titular Simon was so bland a character I couldn’t keep my eyes open. While he fiddled, I twiddled my thumbs waiting for some glimmer of an actual personality to emerge. Fid ...more
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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.

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“They were all too young to die and always would be.” 5 likes
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