News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: October 4, 2015
Page Count: 224
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format:
Audiobook Published by: Brilliance Audio
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Audiobook Length: 5 hours 58 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Summary from the Publisher:
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.
People have been posting good reviews on Litsy all fall about News of the World. I’ve shied away from it because outside of Gone with the Wind, I’ve not had a lot of good luck with Civil War Era American fiction. While browsing Audible trying to figure out a good way to use my new credits, this audiobook came up. I saw that Grover Gardner narrated and it was short. Starting out the new year with a quick listen with guaranteed good narration was all I needed to change my mind about the era. Once again, the audiobook gods were smiling down on me. This story of an elderly traveling newspaper reader who is transporting a 10-year old girl who spent the last four years as a Kiowa captive back home was the perfect way to end my Christmas break.
I have always enjoyed Grover Gardner’s narration in the past. With this short novel, however, he really shined. The way he performed the relationship between Captain Kidd and Johanna warmed my heart. Just his work with Johanna’s character alone made the audiobook. While it makes sense to me in retrospect, I never knew there was such a thing as person who would travel to smaller towns and get paid just to read the newspapers to the locals. Their literacy rates were not then what they are today. Even if it was, they just wouldn’t have the access to all of the larger national and international newspapers. Despite having perhaps an overwhelming amount of access to the world’s news in 2017, I love the idea of having someone groom the news and read the best, most interesting stories to me. I think that Grover Gardner would be just the man to do it, too. Anyone interested in signing my petition to ask Gardner go on a cross country news reading tour?
Taking on the responsibility of transporting an “uncivilized” child across Texas may not have been what an aging Captain Kidd would have chosen for himself. In listening to his heart, he expanded his life in ways he never would have imagined. I’ve been saying recently how much I need to read The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck because I’ve been so stressed out. There may still be a place for that book in targeted areas of my life, but this book had me reevaluating that thought. The world is a much better place when people who can say yes to helping those in need. In addition to enjoying every minute in the world Paulette Jiles brought to live, News of the World makes me want to be a better person. I hope that I am always open to the opportunities fate places in my path along the way.