Arts & Leisure

Book review: Simon the Fiddler — by Paulette Jiles

(William Morrow & Company)
Paulette Jiles has somehow outdone herself, crafting another wholly original story, rooted in its historical time and space, directly following the end of America’s Civil War. Simon Boudlin is a fine fiddler, a skill that he parlays to his every advantage. He lands in the regimental band during his short stint as a conscript in the Confederate Army, and after they surrender, he gathers up a small band and together they tour southwest Texas, earning just enough to keep them fed and in clean shirts. At one performance, Simon chances upon Doris Dillon, an Irish governess indentured to foul-tempered man. Simon devotes himself to earning enough money to buy land, win her heart, and attain his dream of a home filled with love and music, the kind of home he was denied as a child. Captain Jefferson Kidd (News of the World) makes a welcome and genteel appearance and helps ease Simon’s mind at a critical juncture. This upbeat, satisfying novel is shot through with moments of light humor, tales of valor and undying love, and particular details of place and atmosphere that bring the story to vivid light. With clever determination and earnest forthright finagling, Simon’s travails will entertain and amuse. 
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
 

A Dozen Literary Westerns
The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig
Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore
Far Bright Star, by Robert Olmstead
How Much of These Hills Is Gold, by C Pam Zhang
The Wake of Forgiveness, by Bruce Machart 
The Son, by Philipp Meyer
Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
Whiskey When We’re Dry, by John Larison
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
The Which Way Tree, by Elizabeth Crook
The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick DeWitt
The Outcasts, by Kathleen Kent  

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