As lyrical and poignant as Ahab’s Wife and Cold Mountain, here is a wondrous tale set against the tragedy of the American Civil War. . . . “Jiles carries her gifts with deft precision.”—New York Times Book Review
The Colley family are modest farmers in the Missouri Ozarks. Although Southerners, the Colleys try to remain neutral, a fact ignored by the Union militia who confiscate their livestock, burn their farm, and arrest their daughter, Adair, on charges of “enemy collaboration.”
Yet as this innocent young woman soon discovers, fate can have a double edge. While imprisoned, she falls in love with her interrogator, a Union major who helps her escape. Transferred to the front lines, he promises he will survive and marry her. And Adair, now an escaped convict, must begin her own harrowing journey through the wilderness and enemy territory to find the family she left behind.
In unsentimental yet elegant prose, Paulette Jiles reveals the universal horrors of war and its irreparable damage, and introduces a wonderful new character in a memorable, touching story.
Soon to be a Major Motion Picture Starring Tom Hanks
National Book Award Finalist—Fiction
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers 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, forming 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.
The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women returns to Texas in this atmospheric story, set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.
In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty thanks to his slight stature, youthful appearance, and utter lack of compunction about bending the truth. But following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted, however belatedly, into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.
Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the quick-thinking, audacious fiddler can’t help but notice the lovely Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.
After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. He will travel around Texas seeking fame and fortune as a musician. She must accompany the colonel’s family to finish her three years of service. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden, and vows that someday he will find her again.
Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd drifts through northern Texas, performing live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world-of the Irish pouring into New York City, of the railroad driving into the new state of Nebraska, of an eruption of Popocatépetl near Mexico City. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain once made his living as a printer, until the War Between the States took his press and everything with it. Now, at seventy-one, he enjoys the freedom of the road, even if his body aches and money is scarce.
At a stop in Wichita Falls, Captain Kidd is offered a fifty-dollar gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives near San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders viciously killed Johanna Leonberger's parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as their own. Recently recovered by the U.S. Army, the ten-year-old with blue eyes and hair the color of maple sugar has once again been torn away from the only home and family she knows. The captain's sense of duty and of compassion propels him to accept, though he knows the journey will be long and difficult.
Winding through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain, the four-hundred-mile odyssey south proves dangerous as well. A corrupt Reconstruction administration runs the state government, and anarchy and lawlessness have taken hold. The captain must watch for thieves, Comanches and Kiowas, and the federal army-and corral the wild Johanna. Small and thin, the despondent child 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 wary Johanna slowly draws closer to the man she calls "Kep-dun," and the two lonely survivors forge a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
But in San Antonio another hurdle awaits, one that will force this respectable man to make a terrible choice that will determine Johanna's fate-and his own.
Unfolding in gorgeous prose, News of the World is a vivid portrait that captures a beautiful and hostile land, and a masterful exploration of the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
Paulette Jiles's novels have been called 'beautiful,' 'unforgettable,' 'impeccable,' 'pitch perfect,' 'life-affirming,' 'deeply relevant,' 'Homeresque,' 'remarkably engaging,' 'glorious.' Now the acclaimed poet and New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Lightning, Stormy Weather, and Enemy Women limns new territory with this captivating and atmospheric story set in the far future,a beautiful and engaging literary dystopian tale resonant with love and hope.
See the rain forests . . . northern beauty, misted nights. Come to Lighthouse Island . . .
In the coming centuries, the world's population has exploded and covered the earth with endless cities. Animals are nearly all gone. Drought plagues the land and cloudy water is issued by the quart. There are no maps, no borders, no numbered years. On this urban planet the only relief from the overcrowding, the petty informers, and the harsh rule of the big Agencies is the television in every living space, offering dreams of vanished waterfalls and the promise of virtual vacations in green spaces for the lucky few.
It is an unwelcoming world for an orphan like Nadia Stepan, abandoned by her parents on a crowded street when she was four with only a drawing of the constellations of the Big Dipper,Cassiopeia's Chair and the North Star,and her mother's parting words: 'Look to the North Star, and we will always be there.' Shuttled from orphanage to orphanage, foster family to foster family, Nadia grows up dreaming of the vacation spot called Lighthouse Island, in a place called the Pacific Northwest where she believes her long-lost parents must be. As her obsession grows, so too does her determination to find her way there.
In the meantime, this bright and witty orphan falls into the refuge of old and neglected books; the lost world of the imagination filled with characters who can't disappear, or be arrested, or hurt her. And there is the voice, bounced from an abandoned satellite, that patiently reads, over and over, the great classical books of the world,Big Radio, a sound in the night that lifts Nadia above the relentless television noise and the dull and perpetual Present. Despite deprivation, uncertainty, and the deceptions she must use to survive, Nadia's dream never waivers. 'It will get better, life will get better.'
When an opportunity for escape appears, Nadia takes it, abandoning everything to strike out for Lighthouse Island in a dangerous and sometimes comic adventure. She faces every contingency with bottomless inventiveness and meets the man who changes the course of her life: James Orotov, a mapmaker and demolition expert. Together, they evade arrest and head north toward a place of wild beauty that lies beyond the megalopolis: Lighthouse Island and its all-seeing eye.
Paulette Jiles is a poet and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the bestselling novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, and The Color of Lightning. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.
In 1863, the War Between the States creeps slowly yet inevitably toward its bloody conclusion'and eastern thoughts are already turning to different wars and enemies.
Searching for a life and future, former Kentucky slave Britt Johnson is venturing west into unknown territory with his wife, Mary, and their three children'wary but undeterred by sobering tales of atrocities inflicted upon those who trespass against the Comanche and the Kiowa. Settling on the Texas plains, the Johnson family hopes to build on the dreams that carried them from the Confederate South to this new land of possibility'dreams that are abruptly shattered by a brutal Indian raid upon the settlement while Britt is away establishing a business. Returning to face the unthinkable'his friends and neighbors slain or captured, his eldest son dead, his beloved Mary severely damaged and enslaved, and his remaining children absorbed into an alien society that will never relinquish its hold on them'the heartsick freedman vows not to rest until his family is whole again.
Samuel Hammond follows a different road west. A Quaker whose fortune is destroyed by a capricious act of an inscrutable God, he has resigned himself to the role the Deity has chosen for him. As a new agent for the Office of Indian Affairs, it is Hammond's goal to ferret out corruption and win justice for the noble natives now in his charge. But the proud, stubborn people refuse to cease their raids, free their prisoners, and accept the farming implements and lifestyle the white man would foist upon them, adding fuel to smoldering tensions that threaten to turn a man of peace, faith, and reason onto a course of terrible retribution.
A soaring work of the imagination based on oral histories of the post'Civil War years in North Texas, Paulette Jiles's The Color of Lightning is at once an intimate look into the hearts and hopes of tragically flawed human beings and a courageous reexamination of a dark American history.
From Paulette Jiles comes a poignant and unforgettable story of hardship, sacrifice, and strength in a tragic time, and a desperate dream born of an undying faith in the arrival of a better day.
Oil is king of East Texas during the darkest years of the Great Depression. The Stoddard girls know no life but an itinerant one, trailing their father from town to town as he searches for work on the pipelines and derricks. And in every small town, mother Elizabeth does her level best to make each sparse, temporary house they inhabit a home.
But the fall of 1937 ushers in a year of devastating drought and dust storms, and the family's fortunes sink further when a questionable "accident" leaves Elizabeth and her girls alone to confront the cruelest hardships of these hardest of times. With no choice left to them, they return to the abandoned family farm.
It is Jeanine Stoddard who devotes herself to rebuilding the farm and their lives. But hard work and good intentions won't make ends meet. In desperation, the Stoddard women place their last hopes for salvation in a wildcat oil well and on the back of late patriarch Jack's one true legacy, a dangerous racehorse named Smoky Joe. And Jeanine must decide if she will gamble it all . . . on love.