By Lynn Willoughby
News of the World ~ Paulette Jiles
I found this book interesting on many levels. It takes place some time after the civil war in the US and the main character is Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd. He makes a living by travelling a circuit reading the news of the the world at town halls. He wires ahead to order newspapers from large American cities and cities around the world, rents a hall, puts up notices and the townspeople pay 10 cents each to hear him read the news. These pioneers have no access to papers, and many of them cannot read, so it is always exciting when Kidd comes to town. Part of what he chooses to read depends on the political bent of the audience, or recent events in the territory. So he does some informal research before he begins a reading.
The real twist in this novel comes in Wichita Falls when Kidd is offered $50 to deliver a young orphan girl to her relatives in San Antonio. This seems simple enough but four years earlier Johanna’s parents and sister had been killed by a band of Kiowa raiders, she was taken captive, and is now native in every way. She is terrified, speaks no English and has been torn away from the only family she knows. She is so very still and impassive she seems artificial. She tries to escape at every opportunity, hates the clothing she is wrestled into and refuses to ride in the wagon with Kidd, so she walks beside.
During the 400 mile journey through unsettled territory full of bandits and raiders, over unforgiving terrain, the two eventually begin to trust each other. In fact, they must work together to survive, and Johanna proves very resourceful.
One can only imagine the sadness Johanna suffers. Kidd is in his 70s – a survivor of three wars who enjoys his solitary existence. Kidd is, in fact, a person I would like to know and have in MY life. He is so very empathetic to Johanna’s suffering, so intolerant of all the “takers” they meet in their travels. But how can this story possibly end well?
- Enemy Women
- Stormy Weather