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This novel is nothing like News of the World or The Color of Lightning. This one is a straight up romance with a spirited Irish lass thrown in for good measure.
I would divide the story into two parts. In the first, we read of music and the formation of a small band consisting of a fiddler, a guitarist, a rhythm section lad with a wee hand drum and bones, and a flautist or penny whistler. We watch the players grow to care for one another and perform merrily at various venues. Quite enjoyable.
In the second part, we are absorbed with Simon falling in love with Doris of Ireland.
This being Paulette Jiles, romance or not, we are still in the rough and tumble world of people who have just lost a war and who are confused, angry and violent. This turbulence is reflected in the story though in no way to the extent we experience turbulence and strife in The Color of Lightning. Nevertheless, it’s there, so yes, it’s a beautiful romance, but at the same time it’s a far cry from, say, Harlequin’s Love Inspired series. It’s not soft like those stories. It can be soft to the touch, but it can also be rough to the touch. Like real life.
It’s a significant story, you will see that Lt. Whittaker is the true gallant, I recommend it and give it 4 stars.
The end of the Civil War has settled upon our great country and now the people of the South are tasked with putting their lives back together again. Young Simon is created so beautifully in poetry and verse and living color with a fiddle in his hand. And while he plays for his supper the troubles of the world fall away before him. Until he meets Miss Doris Dillon, recently from Ireland and now under a three-year contract to work in the employ of besotted Colonel Webb and his fearful, shrinking wife. Oh, and did I forget to mention also be governess to their deceitful teenage daughter? If it sounds like a house of misfits, it is! But Doris endures, while Simon and his band members make their way down the Gulf Coast to Galveston, mosquito-ridden and smelling of salt marshes . Somehow, most ingeniously, Doris and Simon find ways to get a few letters to each other that serve to make their love grow stronger, even as Simon makes his way through the lawless ranchos of the Nueces Strip and finally to San Antonio, under martial law and firmly in the grip of the U S Army. Here is where the Colonel is stationed and where Simon and Doris meet again and begin to make real plans for their future. It does not go as planned, but no great adventure does. But from here you are on your own, so read on and enjoy!
I enjoy Paulette Jibes’ writing style and her description of the wildness of the Southwest. Her writing is a combination of poetry and prose and the reader is drawn into the storyline within the framework of settings in the countryside and early cities of Texas. Her characters are strong and independent and represent the spirit of the early settlers and dreamers in this country. Simon, the protagonist, is an energetic, lover of music, a self-made decent young man who has made his money by playing his beloved fiddle in service to the Confederate Army and after the war throughout Texas. He has dreams that he is willing to follow in spite of many obstacles that would discourage most men. The story is replete with references to the terrain, rivers and vegetation in Texas. I selected this book after reading The News of the World and I was not disappointed.
Ms. Jiles is certainly a gifted writer; her descriptions of the history, landscapes and hardscrabble lives in post- Civil War Texas are engaging and well researched, but at times her attention to detail makes the story line suffer. For example, there are too many times to count when she discusses obscure musical numbers and songs that our motley crew performs or the redundant chronicle of dirty clothes and sparse meals our group endures throughout most of the book. There's also a surprising element of stereotype in character development: noble Simon, helpless Doris, evil Colonel Webb. I enjoyed the book though it was too long and not nearly as riveting as New Of The World.
Paulette Jiles' books always make you feel like you're there in whatever fictional world she's creating, and this book is no exception. It'a a picaresque story of fiddler and dispossessed bastard Simon Boudlin, who makes his way from Civil War battlefields to Galveston to Houston to San Antonio, all in pursuit of Miss Doris Dillon, an Irish immigrant governess he saw once. His love is pure and idealistic and it's very gratifying to see how he overcomes the odds to present himself to Doris as a plausible husband and man of property. Paulette Jiles' gift is the evocation of worlds, and you really lose yourself in the descriptions of post-bellum Texas, with its beauty, violence, and possibility. To be fair the book is not quite on the level of News of the World, but some of the characters from her other books make an appearance in this appealing narrative.
Ms. Jiles has penned an absorbing fictional account of a itinerant musicians surviving the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction in Texas. The melodies of love, friendship, prejudice, violence, disease, and justice mix together in a cacophony of personal and public history. Era details, descriptive phrases, and the variations of American heritages and human motivation are woven expertly into a narrative tour that carries a band of musical brothers over the emotional geography of their young adult lives as well the rough seas and roads of South Texas. While the sharps and flats of characterization sometimes lack fulsomeness, Ms. Jiles has tuned her song so appealingly we can't help but hope to hear more verses down the road a spell.
While this is not “News of the “World”, it is still an enchanting story of the old west. Ms. Giles word portraits are amazing. I had to read the description of Simon’s playing of Shenandoah three times it was so beautiful, as was the description of the dance that followed. To read it was to experience it yourself. A rare talent.
I liked the characters, who were well drawn and believable. The plot was interesting and kept me reading. However, the ending, again, was disappointing. I felt like she just quit, and I was looking for a follow on book, but there doesn't seem to be one yet. This "stopping" instead of ending is not at all satisfying. Rather disappointing.
This is the first book I have read from this author. Her style of writing is very different from other authors I have read before; she has a slow cadence to her unfolding of the story, so if you are used to a writer getting right to the point, you will be disappointed. It was a lovely story with a good ending.
I liked all of it! I've read all but one of Paulette Jiles novels and loved them all. The title did not grab me, but my history of loving her stories got me to buy it. I was transported once again to the author's favorite time and place. I strongly recommend this book.