My dad read News of the World a few years back — and boy, let me tell you, he loved it so much that he has literally sent this book to everyone he knows: his best friend, his clients, his client’s best friends, his coworkers, his coworkers best friends…everyone, the list goes on. If someone knows my dad, they probably have this book too.
Anyways, my dad is a very picky reader, so when he likes something, you pay attention to it. And that’s exactly what my bookclub did for our January pick this year. We loved it; so, here’s to you dad, you’ve got great taste.
News of the World is a lovely and elegantly-written Civil War epic about Captain Kidd who is tasked with returning a kidnapped girl, Johanna, to her family— and has to travel across Texas in unknown and dangerous terrain. Though this may seem like a relatively simple plot line, it gets tricker: Johanna was actually kidnapped by the Kiowa Indian tribe a few years prior, and had her whole family murdered in the process. But with this, Johanna seems to have forgotten her troubling entrance into this tribe, and sees herself as a member of it, and in fact no longer speaks the English language. So, there is no way for Johanna and Captain Kidd to communicate, other than through facial expressions (which already have different connotations in the dueling cultures) and body language. This makes Captain Kidd’s task all the more difficult.
This book is thrilling yet endearing, and I completely fell in love with both little Johanna and Captain Kidd. Both protagonists of this narrative go through deep emotional journeys, and end up better for it. Moreover, author Paulette Jiles is a wonderful writer: her language is simple and elegant, and her vivid descriptions easily transport you into 1870s Texas terrain isn a marvelously striking way.
And thankfully, this is not the last we’ll see of these two characters — this comes out in theaters this December, starring Tom Hanks as the Captain!