News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
I bought this book as an audio for my book club. When I read the blurb, I thought, ugh! It sounded like one of my grandpa’s old westerns, and I thought I would be bored to tears, but I also read that Tom Hanks was due to play Captain Kidd’s part, and so away I listened…. I was intrigued from the very first paragraph as the history of Texas unfolded through the eyes of the older gentleman and war veteran, Captain Kidd. Traveling around from town to town reading the news, this old-timer was the equivalent of today’s social media. Picking and choosing newsworthy stories to tell the people from near and far, he brought more to the patrons than what news he read from the papers. Kidd was recognized as entertainment and enlightenment for rural populations, that were still trying to find their footing during a post civil war Texas. He read to people of all classes, and the fee was only a dime. After losing his print shop and taking to the road, he finds himself burdened with the task of helping a young ten-year-old girl return to her German family near San Antonio. The journey is long and the trials of their travels are many. I thought the description of the night sky, the Irish woman’s explanation of the girl’s psyche, and the way the captain assessed his role as a messenger in life are wonderful highlights in the book, showcasing the authors talents. Her ability to balance history, story and description of the landscape and it’s inhabitants was five star!