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Author Paulette Jiles returns to Texas for ‘News of the World’

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Bestselling author Paulette Jiles (Enemy Women) returns to one of her favorite settings — Texas — for her new historical fiction novel, News of the World.

“Some people are just born with a love of landscape or the outdoors, or gardening, or raising large animals, or searching through the non-urban world for treasure,” Jiles says in press materials. She lives on a small ranch outside of San Antonio. “It’s in your DNA or something. I am one of those people. ... [Texas] is a beautiful and also dangerous country. It is dramatic. There are fires, droughts and floods, rolling red land, astonishing skies.”

In 1870 in post-Civil War Texas, 70-year-old Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a widower with two grown daughters and veteran of two wars, makes a living by traveling throughout the state to read newspapers to a public hungry for news of the world. He charges a dime per person.

He’s in Wichita Falls when Britt Johnson (the hero from Jiles’ Color of Lightning) asks him to deliver — for a $50 gold piece — a 10-year-old girl to her aunt and uncle in San Antonio. This is no ordinary girl. She was kidnapped by the Kiowa when she was 6 (her mother and father were killed), doesn’t speak English and is, essentially, a wild child known as Cicada instead of Johanna Leonberger.

So, this unlikely pair sets off on a 400-mile journey and faces all the perils of the road — from storms to really bad men. And, of course, they develop a bond on their trip south, leading the captain to a tough decision once they reach San Antonio.

“I think readers will most appreciate the captain’s courage in doing the right thing,” Jiles says. “His protection of the innocent, his staunch defense, even to the risk of his life, of a child in need.”

Celeste Williams

News of the World

  • By Paulette Jiles
  • William Morrow, $22.99
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