“Life was not safe and nothing could make it so, neither fashionable dresses nor bank accounts. The baseline of human life was courage.” ~ Paulette Jiles, News of the World
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Genre: Historical fiction, western
Published by William Morrow, 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: This may be a book I revisit every few years.
Reviewed by Pete
I enjoyed every moment of Paulette Jiles’s News of the World. It’s smartly written, the characters were wonderful, and it was a great and moving story. This is my first five-star review of the year (and I give these out sparingly—I only gave three books a five star last year).
The News of the World follows the adventures of Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, Civil War vet, as he reads news from distant lands to the people of Texas. Toward the beginning of the story, he is tasked with bringing Johanna, a young German girl who has spent the last four years of her life with Kiowa Native Americans, back to her surviving family members in San Antonio. Their long journey together is filled with horseback chases, endless plains, and a variety of interesting characters.
This is a book in which the author makes promises to the reader—stories, wisdom, adventure, shootouts, a satisfying conclusion—and she fulfills them. Every sentence is written with purpose and clarity, and each character that the Captain and Johanna encounter is in the middle of their own story.
I could have continued reading about the Captain and Johanna for eight hundred pages (or six more novels), but News of the World works perfectly as a compact book filled with a big story.
Read this one if you want to escape to an older America that feels like a different world. Read it if you want an adventure. News of the World is pure and filled with joy and powerful words. I’ll be recommending this one to people for years.