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.
Jiles delivers a taut, evocative story of post Civil War Texas in this riveting drama of a redeemed captive of the Kiowa tribe. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly widower, earns his living traveling around, reading news stories to gatherings of townspeople. While reading in Wichita Falls one evening in the winter of 1870, he sees an old acquaintance. Britt Johnson, the main character in Jiles's The Color of Lightning, has just come through Indian Country with his crew. The men are returning a 10-year-old girl to her aunt and uncle in Castroville after she spent four years with the Kiowa. A free black man, Britt is reluctant to have a white child in his custody. He persuades the Captain to escort young Johanna on the remainder of the three-week journey. The Captain, who has grown daughters of his own, at first feels sorry for the girl. Johanna considers herself Kiowa; she chafes at wearing shoes and a dress, struggles to pronounce American words. Challenges and dangers confront the two during their journey, and they become attached. Jiles unfolds the stories of the Captain and Johanna, past and present, with the smooth assuredness of a burnished fireside tale, demonstrating that she is a master of the western.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An enjoyable read
I found this book an enjoyable read for the most part. Enjoyable as much in the character development, believable situations, and realistic settings. I find well written fiction based on believability interesting, often more so than nonfiction in bringing a story alive, and that's what this book delivers.
One thing that took some concentration to get into was an aspect of the writer's style. The author clearly doesn't employ quotation marks in dialogue.
I won't get into the storyline, because others have delved into it at length. I will say though, that unless you prefer excessive fantasizing, you might enjoy reading this book. It embodies a good range of characters and emotive content.
I loved this! I fell in love with the characters. This is wonderfully written. I may have found a new favorite author.
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