News of the World

News of the WorldNews of the World by Paulette Jiles, Grover Gardner
Published by Brilliance Audio on June 20th 2017
Format: audiobook
Genres: Literary Fiction, Western
See it @ Goodreads
four-half-stars


Synopsis


National Book Award Finalist—Fiction
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings 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, forging 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. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

My thoughts on this book

News of the World, a National Book Award nominee is a delight.  Janet Maslin in her New York Times review  of  News of the World called it a painfully simple story.

Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd is an older gentleman, who travels around Texas reading the news.  A friend asks Kidd to take a 10 year girl who the indians kidnapped when she was 6 years old and return to her family in Southern Texas.  What ensues is a trek fraught with danger from highwaymen, raiding Kiowa and the unforgiving desert. As Kidd and Johanna, as the Captain has named her, travel together they grow closer. 

In this 24/7 news cycle world, it is hard to image that a traveling news reader, the wonder of it all. I was enchanted by this book and would highly recommend it.

El Paso

El PasoEl Paso by Winston Groom
Published by Recorded Books on October 4, 2016
Format: audiobook
Genres: Fiction, Western
See it @ Goodreads
three-stars


Synopsis


Three decades after the first publication of Forrest Gump, Winston Groom returns to fiction with this sweeping American epic.
Long fascinated with the Mexican Revolution and the vicious border wars of the early 20th century, Winston Groom brings to life a much-forgotten period of history in this sprawling saga of heroism, injustice, and love. An episodic novel set in six parts, El Paso pits the legendary Pancho Villa, a much-feared outlaw and revolutionary, against a thrill-seeking railroad tycoon known as the Colonel, whose fading fortune is tied up in a colossal ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico.
But when Villa kidnaps the Colonel's grandchildren in the midst of a cattle drive and absconds into the Sierra Madre, the aging New England patriarch and his adopted son head to El Paso, hoping to find a group of cowboys brave enough to hunt the generalissimo down.
Replete with gunfights, daring escapes, and an unforgettable bullfight, El Paso, with its textured blend of history and legend, becomes an indelible portrait of the American Southwest in the waning days of the frontier.

My thoughts on this book

I have to say I love the cover for this book. It really draws you in, I could hardly wait to listen to this book. Expecting the second coming of Edna Ferber’s Giant I settled in for a good listen.

Take a fading railroad tycoon from Boston, an adopted son trying to hold together his fathers railroad,two small children and Mexican Revolutionary and you have the makings for EL Paso. I have to say it is a great story line, rich gringos with their multi million acre ranches with hundreds of thousands head of cattle and one desperado out to prove to the world just how notorious he is should make a great read. I just couldn’t take the book seriously, there wasn’t the depth needed to make this a serious work of historical fiction. Simply put the characters lacked depth, and that detracted from the story.