Book review

News of the World

Paulette Jiles

In a few words

Set in Texas after the American Civil War, Captain Kidd, a travelling newsreader, accepts the dangerous task of escorting a young girl back to her relatives after being kidnapped by Kiowa Indians.

Great for

Those who enjoy historical novels, especially character-driven stories.

Why I love this book

News of the World is a delightful story with endearing characters.

Captain Jefferson Kidd, an aging widower, earns his living travelling from town to town in 1870 Texas giving selected readings from the latest newspapers. Historically it’s very interesting, as many of the citizens at that time were either illiterate or unable to buy newspapers and this was their only way of hearing what was going on in the world around them.

The captain is offered $50 to return a young girl to her relatives some 400 miles away. Johanna, a hostile 10-year-old, speaks no English and has no memory of her relatives. She considers herself to be a Kiowa and is distraught at leaving the only family she knows. Captain Kidd buys a wagon and they set off together battling rough terrain, bad weather, bandits and comanches. Even when they reach Johanna’s relatives, the adventure is not over. There is more to come!

The author is a poet and this comes as no surprise as her prose is beautiful. She has clearly researched the time and place well and we’re there with them as they make the dangerous journey south. Through the dangers they encounter, they come to trust each other and eventually become close friends.

It's a fascinating journey and is very well written. I highly recommend the book.

My one criticism would be

The last chapter is a little unusual and perhaps rushed, but really my only criticism is that the story finished!

Barbara Brown


Barbara enjoys character-driven books and the opportunity to learn something; about cultures, countries or history.

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