Book Club Reflection: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

24 Dec

As sometimes happens with two book clubs based out of the same library, I now have two discussions of News of the World by Paulette Jiles. I don’t think this book was the best fit for my ‘edgy’ book club, but since it’s going to be made into a movie, we allowed it.

It was pointed out again that there are no dialogue marks in the book, similar to how McCarthy writes. Some people didn’t like the switches to Johanna’s point of view and I believe I remember them as a little confusing in the audiobook since there was no narrator change and they felt a little abrupt. The book felt a bit like a movie. We all want Sam Elliot to play Captain Kidd, though Tom Hanks will do nicely!

The three men who have Johanna at the very beginning are based on some historical figures. Brit Johnson’s family was stolen by the Comanche and he was able to successfully ransom them. He spent later years trying to rescue a girl from the Kiowa but was ultimately killed in his attempt. This is mentioned in the book (and subsequent movie) The Searchers by Alan LeMay.

The internal arguments Captain Kidd had with himself felt real to us. He had a very sound sense of justice. Though, overall, he did feel a little one-dimensional. Not much changed about him over the course of the story. I don’t think his time with Johanna changed how he felt about her or children in general. I honestly felt he was going to adopt her from the beginning. Kidd understood people well and knew a lot about the world outside of Texas. He didn’t develop that during the book.

No one was surprised that Johanna was unhappy with her aunt and uncle. Compared to the freedom of living with the Kiowa, it must have seemed unsafe and dangerous. Her family was harsh on her and she wasn’t ready for it. We wondered why they’d pay so much to get her back. It must have been either pride and appearances or the free labor she could provide.

Captain Kidd’s livelihood was unusual. He picked news from abroad to expand people’s sense of the world and purposefully picked local politics. We were impressed that he got the newspapers he did in rural Texas. It seemed odd to get London newspapers. We figured that this might be the job Jiles would have wanted if she lived in that time period.

The gunfight scene was very memorable. One reader pointed out that the range would have to have been shorter for the dimes to shoot in the way they’re described but without that knowledge of physics, I was fine with it. We thought it was interesting that she didn’t see the value of dimes the same as Kidd. They weren’t money to her so they could be weapons. She is very stealthy getting to the wagon and back which we attributed to her Kiowa upbringing. It’s emphasized more when she goes to scalp the men she’s killed!

We’ll be back in January with more. I’ve already finished the book, now I just have to remember it.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

3 Responses to “Book Club Reflection: News of the World by Paulette Jiles”

  1. Rae Reads January 1, 2020 at 10:18 PM #

    This may have been my favorite book of the year in 1918 when it was the Gulf Coast Read and assigned to a book club I belong to at my local library. Now that they are going to make a movie of it starring Tom Hanks in December 2020, my other book club, near where my university is, chose it as well. BOTH book clubs LOVED it!!

    Like

    • Sam January 2, 2020 at 6:13 AM #

      Well deserved! Both of mine were fans as well. I think the biggest complaint was her lack of dialogue punctuation. That’s such a minor quibble that I ignored it. The book worked perfectly as audio! Happy reading to you and your clubs!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rae Reads January 4, 2020 at 9:56 PM #

        Thank you for the good wishes. Rightbackatcha!

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: