News of the World

Paulette Jiles |  Fiction


Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is a “runner” after the Civil War. He travels throughout north Texas giving readings to people from worldwide newspapers, for 10 cents a listener.  He eschews Texas newspapers, because they excite his audiences and wreak havoc and fistfights among his listeners due to the divisive post-war politics in Texas.  One day he agrees to deliver Johanna, previously stolen by an Indian tribe, to her aunt and uncle in south Texas.  This is the tale of their journey.

This short book (I read it flying home from Dallas) is sweet, but predictable.  There are few surprises and, other than the intrigue of learning about the profession of a runner, I found it not all that compelling.  It's a nice book for a plane ride, but not something to put on your “must read” list.  I think, too, this book did not have an editor!  Before you are too far into this book, you will read that Johanna’s hair is colored honey, biscuit, taffy and ocher. And then taffy again.  I have no idea why the author is obsessed with describing Johanna's hair.  (Late in the book, Jiles uses a clear word to clarify her hair color. I won't tell you what that word is … it would be a spoiler, in a book that requires few spoiler alerts). Likewise, Ms. Jiles more than once describes the moon as “rolling backwards.”  It is irritating that no one seemed to read and edit this book for repetition.

If you want a sweet little read, go for it. Otherwise, there are many juicier books calling to you and me!


7 responses on “News of the World

  1. Mary C Crawford

    Read this a couple of months ago. It was an OK-read. I felt the author gave overly detailed descriptions that slowed the story down. I found myself sometimes skimming to get past this and on with the story. That must be how I missed the hair color discrepancy. Don’t know if I would call it a “sweet read”. There were parts that I found disturbing. The relationship that grew between the Captain and Johanna was sweet.
    This is another book that received some strong reviews and made two or three “best of 2016” lists. Makes one wonder….

    1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Mary. I didn’t find this disturbing. Do you happen to remember what disturbed you? It’s okay if you don’t. Don’t dredge it up!

      1. Mary C Crawford

        Spoiler Alert: to respond to Andrea, will have to refer to some things that take place near the end of the story.
        I found Johanna’s treatment by her relatives very disturbing. As you said, the resolution was predictable but it was distressing watching it unfold.

        1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

          Ah, yes, I see that, Mary. And, further spoiler alert: predictable resolution.

  2. Charlene

    I think I will stick to reading the 7-8 books on my bed stand that I haven’t yet read. Thanks for the review though.