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News of the World
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October 2016: Historical Fiction > News of the World- Paulette Jiles 4 stars

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Tracy (tstan) | 1197 comments Seventy-one year old Captain Jefferson Kidd is asked to return 10 year old Johanna to her aunt and uncle. Johanna was captured and adopted by Kiowa in a raid, in which her parents and sister were killed. She has adapted to the Kiowa way of life, and is very reluctant to go back. As the trip progresses, the two become friends.
Captain Kidd is a veteran of the War of 1812, where he was a 16 year old messenger. Delivering messages and news became his passion, and he became a printer, after another war, move to Texas and marriage/kids. Now, in the 1870s, he is a traveler who stops in small towns in Texas and reads the news to eager listeners.
Kidd is a bit cantankerous, so this book reminded me a bit of True Grit by Charles Portis. I saw that I'm not the only person to notice the similarities. That, by the way is a plus- True Grit is one of my favorite books. But Kidd is not as morally ambiguous as Rooster Cogburn. And Johanna, though a spunky, strong little girl, is not a smartass. Their chemistry as a pair is more grandfather/granddaughter, and as characters, they are very likable, with adventures that are fun to follow.
The plot and settings were well done, as well. The landscape of east and south Texas is clear in my mind, and I can just see the wagon moving along the dusty road. The politics of post Civil War Texas are also well described- I learned quite a bit about the state of the state back then, and would like to learn more.
This is the last of the National Book Award Longlist books for me- and just after I started reading it, the shortlist was announced. This book is on the shortlist, too. I think it's a good historical novel, but it was a bit on the predictable side, with well drawn, but clearly good or bad characters. I would recommend this to fans of this time period. Also to fans of romance novels, because, although it's not a romance, it has a similar plot line.


Booknblues | 5779 comments I just read an interview with the author and it sounds like one I would like.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5801 comments I've read one of Jiles' The Color Of Lightning ... it was a 3-star book for me.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7758 comments I think I am going to add this one to the TBR. I saw it made the National Book Award shortlist and was intrigued and your review has me even more so.

I do think that I will adjust my expectations after reading your review though. Seems like it is more toward entertainment and less life-altering historical retelling.


message 5: by Karin (last edited Oct 11, 2016 09:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karin | 7007 comments Book Concierge wrote: "I've read one of Jiles' The Color Of Lightning ... it was a 3-star book for me."

Yes, it was 3 star for me as well. I've read 4 books by Jiles; two got 3 stars and two 4 stars, so you can't tell by only one of her books, I think.

The two that I gave 4 stars to (and one has some fabulous writing in it):

Enemy Women very strong 4 star book, really 4.5 but I wasn't going to round up. This is set during the US civil war and portrays a part of it that many of us are not familiar with.

Stormy Weather (not as good as the first, but still worth 4 stars).

The two I gave three stars to are:
The Color Of Lightning andLighthouse Island. I liked them, but not as much as the other two, and there were some issues with them as I recall.


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Good review. I'm piqued by the plot summary but remember feeling the same way about Enemy Women and being disappointed. I may give it a try.


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