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Simon the Fiddler: A Novel

Simon the Fiddler: A Novel

Scritto da Paulette Jiles

Narrato da Grover Gardner


Simon the Fiddler: A Novel

Scritto da Paulette Jiles

Narrato da Grover Gardner

valutazioni:
4/5 (76 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
11 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 14, 2020
ISBN:
9780062966773
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Descrizione

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.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 14, 2020
ISBN:
9780062966773
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Informazioni sull'autore

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.

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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (3/5)
    Because I had read News of the World and really enjoyed it - and loved the reader - I was looking for another equally enjoyable experience.
    However it didn’t get there for me - the characters felt somewhat light weight and I wasn’t engaged or emotionally connected to the outcome.
    There was a certain predictability to the whole journey.
  • (5/5)
    Paulette Jules again provides us with a very interesting story and lovable cast of characters. The audio narrator, Grover Gardner, brings the story to life. Enjoyed this book and also hope you will do so.
  • (5/5)
    Really good writing and beautiful descriptions and lots of ups and downs but well-managed good storyline and excellent reading the voice inflections the mood an excellent book hard story but well done
  • (5/5)
    Simon is a man who appears much younger than he is and this has been helpful in keeping him out of the army on both sides of the War Between the States. Until the very end it seems Simon is finally conscripted and he just wants to survive. It seems like he will get out clean but his regiment is attacked by a contingent of Union soldiers who didn’t seem to get the word that the war was over.It is after this raid that Simon and some others caught up in the goings on meet and come together as musicians to perform at the “celebration.” While performing he sees the most amazing young woman and he falls immediately in love but she is indentured to the Union Colonel for a 3 year contract. He also feels he needs to be a man of substance before he can present himself to her.Thus begins the long journey of Simon becoming a man who can be proud of himself and who feels himself worthy to ask for his love’s hand in marriage. But the Colonel is not an honorable man and it will take all that Simon has to give to find a way back to her.Simon the Fiddler is not a fast paced book, it meanders much like a traveling fiddler would have in the time after the Civil War. Ms. Jiles has a beautifully lyrical way of writing that just draws you in and has you following along on Simon’s adventures, both big and small as he tries to find his way back to love.It’s at times a very sweet tale and at others a very harsh tale and one that I wanted to continue. I am left wanting more which I suppose is both good and bad for the ending left me both satisfied and with several questions. I don’t know if a sequel is coming but I know I would welcome one.
  • (4/5)
    She had me at Jock of Hazeldean.Simon the fiddler had passed for fifteen years old, traveling from Paducah to Texas while evading the Confederate conscription men. People valued his gift of music and protected him.Simon played Jock of Hazeldean at the barbecue party, a Scottish ballad of a girl who refuses the hand of a Lord to run off with her true love.He "had a bottomless supply of waltzes, jigs, reels, hornpipes, and slow airs", the last "could bring men and women to a standstill" as the music raised memories of love and homeland, life before the war.I personally loved the references to the music Simon plays. MacPherson's Lament tells the story of a condemned man who breaks his violin rather allow anyone else to play it. Lorena was a sentimental ballad, the most popular song of the war and was featured in Ken Burn's series. Doris asks Simon to play The Minstrel Boy, an Irish tune beloved by soldiers throughout time. Other songs mentioned include Shenandoah, the slow air Death and the Sinner, The Red River Valley, and Robin Adair (the song that gave my grandmother, mother, me and a cousin our middle names).It was in the last days of the war Simon was found by the Confederates who take him for the regimental band. At war's end, Simon and other musicians traveled together, "servants of music and not of the state," seeking their fortune.So it came that Simon played at a barbeque and saw the dark-haired girl in the audience who becomes his lodestar. To escape Ireland, Doris Dillon had signed a contract as an indentured servant to an elegant family ruled by a corrupt Colonel.Every choice Simon makes afterward is rooted in his goal of becoming a man who can support Doris as his wife.Texas was a shifting battleground for years, and after the Civil War vast areas were outside the arm of any law. The musicians traverse the state, living in abandoned places while entertaining polite society. They struggle to earn money for essentials and yet Simon saves up to purchase land of his own.Throughout their adventures, Simon tries to avoid trouble, but he is undaunted in seeking to win Doris's love. He risks everything to save her from the unhappiness of her situation, for the Colonel preys upon the girl, whispering she will succumb to him in the end.The climax involves music. While Simon is playing the Flowers of Edinburgh a disgruntled former band mate cries out for the lewd Shanty Hog-Eye Man. Simon finds himself in a fight for his life.Simon the Fiddler is a romantic tale of a knight in homespun who saves an immigrant girl from the clutches of a drunk predator. It is a tribute to the power of music. And it is a vivid picture of a world broken by a devastating war.I received an ARC from the publisher through LibraryThing. My review is fair and unbiased.
  • (4/5)
    Simon the Fiddler, Paulette Jiles.For the first time in a long time, I truly enjoyed a book. Lately, today, every author seems to feel that it is necessary to put in extraneous messages, progressive messages that express their political views. This book has no ulterior motive. It is simply a good book. It is a love story in a time of chaos. It is the story of Simon and Doris, and the accidental meeting which hurls them into their future.This is a story of love at first sight that cannot be ignored. It is a simpler time, but a more chaotic time. It is 1865. The Civil War has just ended. Simon who had made his living playing his fiddle and had avoided conscription by pretending to be a young boy of about 15, instead of his 23 years, was caught near the end of the war and forced to join the Confederate Army. When the Yankees won, he was taken into custody again, by the other side. When he was told to play his fiddle with an assortment of other men who had also been detained, he was able to organize them into an effective little band. While preparing to perform, he spied a young woman and was smitten on the spot. The young woman, Doris Dillon, was a teenager who had come from Ireland to work for the family of a powerful Union officer. She must remain with the family for three years, a family that proved to be harsh and abusive. Colonel Webb made unwelcome advances to her and limited her freedom. When she spied Simon Boudlin, the fiddler, she was also smitten. Thus begins a journey that will unite these two young lovers pierced by Cupid’s arrow!Doris traveled to San Antonio, with the Webb family. Simon, who was now possessed of the idea that he must find a way to see Doris again, could think of little else. He was in love. He had escaped from the Yankees with a small group of musicians and they make their way to Galveston, arriving broke, hungry, tired and and in need of work. It seems, however, that music is a sought after commodity and a fiddler is always welcome. Although they were a sad looking group, with little more than their instruments and the clothes on their backs, which were themselves little more than rags, they soon learn to work together, and they find work. They become like brothers, loyal and devoted to each other. How their lives ebb and flow in these turbulent times tells the story. It was a dangerous time with an atmosphere of lawlessness in many cities devastated by the war. Simon’s own family had lost its land and business when the Yankees came and burned their stables to the ground and stole their horses.Simon’s determination to find Doris, during those tumultuous times, drives him on and is carefully documented. Their ability to communicate is rare and fraught with danger and deception. The postal service is erratic and unreliable. Often people act as messengers, and mail arrives almost by chance. The characters are sincere in their efforts and simple in their ways. They will endear themselves to the reader. The author’s obvious knowledge of the history and attention to detail and description, illustrates the time period accurately. I read the book slowly because I did not want it to end. Every measured word was necessary and the descriptions of the music and the environment enriched my experience. The historic details illuminated the danger of the times with the war and Indian attacks on the horizon. The novel showed how far someone would go to reunite with their love and what they would risk to keep it. The in-depth exploration of the characters’ range of emotions was sensitive and enlightening. The characters developed slowly, becoming unique and individual, easily recognized. Ultimately, it is a story about a young man who makes his way in the world with one driving purpose, to reconnect with the woman he believes is his soul mate. He will scale mountains, swim seas, and slay dragons to win her heart. It is a lovely story, without the preaching about social issues which is so common in many novels today.
  • (4/5)
    Simon is a musician, traveling around playing his fiddle for anyone that will listen. The Civil War has been going on for years now and he has managed to avoid being forced to fight for either side because of his youthful look and his ability to lie and run. All of that changes when, at the very end of the Civil War, he is caught and made to join the Confederacy. He fights during the last land battle of the war, way down in South Texas. Simon ends up getting put in jail after the war ends because fights a Union soldier that has stolen all of his belongings, including his beloved fiddle.Simon has two big goals in life: to buy some land and to find a good wife. It is while he is playing music for a Union officer’s party that he finds THE GIRL: Doris Dillon. She is beautiful and Irish, and she has stolen his heart. The thing is, she is indentured to Officer Webb, bound by agreement to work for him for three years. Simon has decided to wait for her and during this time, he travels around Texas with some of the other members of the Regimental Band he played with during the war. He plans to keep saving up his money so he can buy that land and he can live happily ever after, with Doris.I completely nerded out while I read Simon the Fiddler. I still am, actually. If you read and loved Mrs. Jiles’ last book, News of the World, you may remember that Simon was one of the characters in that story. Not one of the main characters, but his role was very important. Well THIS story focuses on Simon as the center of the story and actually takes place a few years before News of the World. So we essentially get to see how Simon got to the place he was when we met him first.For a book-lover, this is one of the best things ever!! It’s like two worlds collide, except both stories occur in the same place: Texas in the 1800’s, after the Civil War, when the United States flag once again flew over Texas. There is a general post-war “uncivilized” feel to the place. The countryside is hot and overrun with bandits and thieves, the terrain war torn in some places. It is across this Texas that Captain Kidd journeyed to bring Johanna home in News of the World, and it is across this same Texas that Simon and the rest of his band play their songs for money. Money to be saved so Simon could buy his land.The thing that I loved most about this story is the post-war feel to it. Ms. Jiles is super-good at setting the scene, and while I was reading Simon the Fiddler, I felt almost a little bit off-balanced here and there. What I mean is that there is confusion in the entire area about how things should be now that the war is over. Life hasn’t quite gone back to the way things were before the war started, and some places still don’t have accurate, up-to-date news. I love that I could read and put myself in this place, just imagine how uncertain that may have been for people. Back before the time of the internet and news that comes in-real-time. I remember feeling this with News of the World too, but this story takes place earlier, in the immediate time after the war, so I think that confused feeling was slightly more pronounced and accurate.I also love the setting. LOVE IT. The story feels hot and sweaty and sandy. It feels lawless. It feels like saloons and pubs, like wagons and horses. It feels like old, worn-out war uniforms all over the place because those were the clothes that many people had. It feels like most of the country is still trying to figure out what to do to make life go back to normal.The story is plenty different, though. While Captain Kidd and Johanna met up and joined for travels early in News of the World, in this story it takes a good while for Simon to meet up with the lovely Doris. Life is not easy for either of them and there is patience required. Simon still travels around (loved that!) but it felt like his travels were a little bit slower because it takes him a while to connect with Doris. This story actually feels a little bit slower all around, probably because saving money takes a while. I’m not entirely sure that Simon’s story punched me in the heart the way Captain Kidd and Johanna did, but that would have been difficult for him to do. An older, rugged man and a young orphaned, kidnapped girl together was bound to pull at my heart. It is for this reason that it isn’t exactly fair to Simon to compare his story to that of Captain Kidd and Johanna (like I’m clearly doing here).But, listen, I loved this. I loved it so much. I can’t wait for my husband to read it next, because we have shared Paulette Jiles’ books in the past. You certainly do not have to have read the previous book before this one, but it made me infinitely happier and more excited to find out that I knew Simon already.I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you, William Morrow Books!
  • (3/5)
    Simon was able to avoid being conscripted during the war between the states, but on one of his fiddling events he was caught and sent to the front.Luckily he was conscripted at the very end, and being in the band had allowed him to do a show when the war ended. At the show he saw a girl he couldn’t keep his eyes off of, and a girl he had to ask around about. He made it his job to earn some money and come back for her.He snuck out of the army compound without discharge papers and headed to the Rio Grande along with his fiddle with hopes of finding Doris.We follow Simon and three fellow musicians as they make their way in a boat to San Antonio.When they landed, they had to hide from patrols and find lodging and work. They thankfully found lodging in an abandoned home and found work at different functions and saloons.They had adventures, and Simon still never forgot about Doris Dillon.SIMON THE FIDDLER has Ms. Jiles' excellent writing and beautiful detail, but it was a very slow read. I actually was disappointed since I loved NEWS OF THE WORLD, and was looking for a character to love like Captain Kidd.If you have time to read beautiful, detailed descriptions and also learn about music, SIMON THE FIDDLER will be a book for you. This book was not a favorite for me. It dragged and only became interesting in the last 10% of the book. It actually was a struggle to continue reading. 3/5This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    Paulette Jiles came crashing into my reading world in October 2016 when I met her at the San Antonio Book Festival prior to publication (which had been delayed by about six months) of her News of the World, a book that would eventually become a National Book Award finalist. Jiles offered me one of a handful of the uncorrected proofs she had with her that day, and after a ten-minute conversation with her and author John C. Kerr, it was time for me to head back to Houston. Little did I suspect on that drive home that News of the World was about to become one of my all-time favorite books, but it did. And then, we Paulette Jiles fans waited over two years for a new book from her. Simon the Fiddler, published in April 2020, is that book.“They’d hang a carpenter, a blacksmith, a gambler, or a horse thief but nobody would ever hang a fiddler.” Lieutenant Jacob Whittaker to Simon Boudlin It’s March 1865 and the Civil War is all but over. In about a month Robert E. Lee will surrender the bulk of his Confederate Army to Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia, effectively ending the war. But Simon Boudlin is not in Virginia; he’s in Texas – and he’s still trying to avoid being conscripted into the Confederate Army. That would not be easy for most twenty-three-year-olds, but Simon doesn’t look anywhere near his age. He is a small, boyish-looking man, who if he shaves very, very closely, can easily convince people that he is too young to fight for the Confederacy. It’s worked up to now, anyway. Then, following a barroom fight in Victoria, Simon learns that rather than being locked up in jail for his part in the brawl, he is finally being conscripted into the service of the Confederate Army – even if, as it turns out, it is only as part of the regimental band. Following a completely unnecessary battle, one in which men on both sides of the fight are needlessly killed, Simon and a handful of other musicians are called upon to entertain Confederate and Union officers, and their families, as part of the surrender process. There, Simon spots a beautiful young Irish girl and falls in love with her on the spot. Unfortunately for Simon and Doris, she is indentured to a Union officer as governess to his daughter and is only six months into her three-year contract with the man. Simon is barely able to speak with her before she is off to San Antonio with the officer and his family to complete her years of service. Simon, though, cannot get Doris out of his mind. He will spend the next two years playing his fiddle all over Texas, trying desperately to become a man of means so that he can someday make Doris his wife. But it won’t be easy for either of them.Bottom Line: Paulette Jiles writes beautifully about a period of Texas history during which life could still be rather primitive and dangerous for many of the state’s residents. Much of the narrative takes place in Galveston and Houston, two cities that barely resemble the cities they are today. Having lived in Houston for most of my life, I found it intriguing to imagine, even with the place names I recognized, a city so different from the one I have known for the past fifty years. Paulette Jiles made me see and smell that city and others like it. If you are a fan of well-written, solidly-researched historical fiction, Simon the Fiddler is a book you should not miss. Review Copy provided by Publisher
  • (4/5)
    Paulette Jiles is a gorgeous writer. Her News of the World was one of my favorite books of 2016. Simon the Fiddler, her latest novel, is set in the same half-tamed Western world as News of the World. In fact, Simon plays a role in that book and the main character there, Captain Jefferson Kidd, makes an appearance here. And the books are related beyond setting and characters. They have the same beautiful flow to them, evoking the same sweeping musicality, the same tug of lawless danger and possibility that covered so much of Texas in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War.Simon Boudlin, formerly of Paducah, Kentucky, has spent much of the Civil War playing his fiddle and evading the conscription men by hiding or running. Only at the very tail end of the war does his luck run out whereupon he's conscripted into the Confederate Army. His talent on the fiddle saves him after the South's surrender and his ensuing fight with a Union soldier to reclaim his stolen hat and fiddle, keeping him out of prison, putting him instead at a party to entertain the officers and their wives. It is there that he first lays eyes on Doris Dillon, a pretty Irish indentured servant working her contract off as governess to Colonel Webb's daughter. Simon is smitten and despite what he hears about the Colonel's character, he resolves to find and marry Doris once he has something to offer her. He is determined to earn the money and buy himself a good piece of land. So with the company of two men and a boy he played with that fateful evening, he sets out to do just that. The band travels from war torn Galveston to brash Houston and finally to occupied San Antonio with Simon ever leading the way, getting ever closer to a showdown over the woman he has loved from afar.Simon is a confident and determined character. He is economical not only with money but with words and feelings, pouring his all into his precious fiddle and the occasional fight he didn't start but will finish. The secondary characters are also fully realized and if they sometimes disappear off into the mesquite and scrub of the Texas landscape, it feels right and expected. Jiles does an amazing job of drawing the time and the place with all of its potential, both to succeed and to fail. There are adventures in the novel but they feel slow and deliberate, always working toward the destination Simon has in mind. The prose is languid and hot feeling and the dirt and grit seep through the characters and the place and the plot. The love story is measured and not flashy but steady and relentless. Simon's love of music and his tender care of his fiddle speaks of the soul of him. Some might find this moves too slowly but for readers who want to appreciate the singing of language, this stunning read will satisfy at a bone deep level.
  • (4/5)
    This is the story of Simon (a fiddler) towards the end and right after the American Civil War, in Texas. This was a fascinating time in history, and Jiles does an amazing job with the historical facts and the sense of place. I loved the descriptions of San Antonio. She also gives us wonderful characters, Simon is feisty, but has a tenderhearted side, and a longing for home and family. Doris, his love interest, an Irish immigrant in a difficult situation, has more grit and guile than meets the eye. I think that [News of the World], Jiles' earlier book, set in a similar time, is better, but this is very close to as good.
  • (5/5)
    By appearing younger than his actual age, Simon hopes to avoid conscription into the Confederate Army. His luck runs out towards the end of war, but his talent as a fiddler lands him in a relatively safe position in that regiment’s band. A chance performance to play for officers from both sides has him glimpsing the young and pretty governess of a northern officer, and he plays a song she requests. She goes off with the officer and his family, and Simon has fallen compulsively and completely in love. His quest to find her, with the ultimate goal of marriage, consumes him. This well-written novel paints a very descriptive picture of that time period, from the decimation of the land and its people, to the extreme poverty and hard-scrabble living just to get food and shelter to the utter horror of yellow fever. The language the author uses flows like water in a quiet stream, it is so smooth. The characters are complex and well-defined, and the plot is compelling in its simplicity. The author does an excellent job of making each character seem so real and their plight so heart-rending, that the reader can’t help but feel empathy for Simon and his ragtag band of musicians as they search for the almost-indentured governess. This book is what historical fiction should be.
  • (5/5)
    Having never read anything by the author before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was invested in Simon’s story right from the start; as he was forced to join the Confederate Army against his will just at the very end of the Civil War. He survives the single battle he has to fight, manages to save his fiddle from a thief, and then is made to play music for a celebration of the end of the war, along with soldiers from both sides of the battle. There he meets Dorris and immediately decides he’s going to marry her one day. From here the story unfolds as Simon and his friends and band mates travel across Texas playing music and saving the money needed to buy property, all with the intent of finding Dorris again and becoming her husband. This isn’t a fast paced book until the last few chapters, but the writing is lovely, and I liked Simon’s determination and spirit. I would absolutely read more by Paulette Jiles!
  • (4/5)
    I loved News of the World by Paulette Jiles so was excited to receive an ARC of her latest novel, Simon the Fiddler, from the publisher, William Morrow via LibraryThing, in exchange for my honest opinion.This is a Western historical fiction/love story and the setting was in Texas just as the Civil War was ending. Because of his youthful appearance, Simon evaded serving but just as the War ended, he was conscripted into the Confederate Army. Since Simon was an accomplished fiddler, he was placed in a regimental band. While playing at a military affair, he sees Doris, a young Irish governess to the daughter of a Union Officer. It's love at first sight for Simon.Simon was in his early 20's and dreamed of buying land and marrying Doris after her three-year contract ends. He learns that the Union Officer, his family, and Doris will be moving to San Antonio. He teams up with other musicians and travels through Texas to earn money in order to survive and save for a down payment to buy land.The first part of this story moves slowly as the characters are introduced. As Simon travels through Texas, we see the struggles of the people trying to get their lives back after a devastating war. Ms. Jiles does a great job of describing the atmosphere of the lonely countryside as well as the large city conflicts, the hot weather, and the desperation of people trying to survive all the destruction and disease. But most of all, she captures Simon's love of music, his fiddle, Doris, and his band members; his musical talent, his ambitions, and his ability to carry-on to achieve his dreams.
  • (4/5)
    LT Early Reviewers Book: I was three weeks into social-isolation because of the pandemic and needing the distraction only a good book can bring. Simon the Fiddler had arrived a week earlier and sat ignored on a side table. I picked it up and recalled how much I had enjoyed "News of the World" by the same author, Paulette Jiles. Needless to say, I jumped right in. Early on I was disappointed. I couldn't figure out where the book was going or if I would enjoy finding out. Then, I was pulled right in and couldn't put the book down. There is much to enjoy in this beautifully written book about love and commitment and war and friendship and music. I certainly recommend, Simon the Fiddler.
  • (4/5)
    Set in post-Civil-War 1860s Texas, the story follows Simon, a fiddler recently deserted from the Confederate Army who wanders through small Texas towns eking out a living playing fiddle in bars and public houses with his two companions, Doroteo and Damon. Simon falls in love with Miss Doris Dillon, a young Irish immigrant under contract as governess to Colonel Webb, a lecherous tyrant. Simon and Doris are separated, and the book spans Simon’s life trying to woo her from afar while dodging bar fights and alligators. Jiles’ writing is sublime. She obviously does her research, but the story was never pedantic. The descriptions of the second-hand clothes the men wore riddled with bullet holes, the dust and grime that covered their hands, the heat and sickness pervading the small towns were absorbing. I was quickly immersed in the kaleidoscope of Simon’s life, each incident bringing twists and changes as he squeaked through one trouble after another. At the core of this novel is the volatile time period and the treacherous Texas environs. The book isn’t so much plot driven as it is simply an experience. Jiles captures the west in uncertain political times, describing the unpredictable lifestyle of the characters against a barren and often dangerous landscape. Many thanks to LibraryThing and William Morrow / Harper Collins for the advance copy in exchange for my review.
  • (4/5)
    He knew that he did not play music so much as walk into it, as if into a palace of great riches, with rooms opening into other rooms, which still opened to other rooms, and in these rooms were courtyards and fountains with passageways to yet more mysterious spaces of melody, peculiar intervals, unheard notes.”“Then San Antonio was ahead of them, tucked into the knees of the hills, a layer of woodsmokesliding overhead in misty layers. The sound of the bells of San Fernando Cathedral rang out, rain crows sailing through the air.”It is early spring of 1965 and the Civil War is mercifully grinding to a halt. Simon Boudlin, a twenty-three year old fiddler player, has been rambling around Texas, playing gigs where he can. After getting in trouble, during a bar fight, he is conscripted in a ragtag Confederate outfit,and ends up playing in the regiment band. During a chance encounter, he meets a pretty young Irish girl named Doris, that he falls head over heels for. The end of the war, splits these two up and the rest of this engaging novel, has the reader, follow Simon as he tries to track Doris down, through war-ravaged east and south Texas. Jiles has become such a solid and dependable writer. Her last book, News of the World was a complete joy and her latest is another winner. She does her research too and the detail here feels so rich and complete. For those of you who fondly remember Captain Kidd, from her earlier work, he makes a brief appearance here too and it definitely made me smile.
  • (4/5)
    Paulette Jiles has done it again. Set in southeastern Texas in the immediate aftermath of the US Civil War, this is the story of Simon and his ragtag band of musicians, making music and - barely - living. Early in the story, Simon meets Doris, an Irish immigrant indentured to a wealthy Pennsylvania family. Ah, this is love. Simon swears to himself that he will find her again, after he has found and purchased some land. He saves and scrimps as his little band makes their way toward San Antonio; he also has one of his buddies write to Doris on his behalf, hoping to keep himself in her consciousness. The story is engaging and charming, poignant and sweet. But it's Jiles' writing that makes this novel memorable. She evokes both the landscape and the era in exquisite prose. She transports the reader so wholly to the time and place, and she inspires such empathy for the characters, the read is sheer pleasure. Highly recommended. I was provided with a copy of this novel via Early Reviewers.
  • (4/5)
    Another fabulous read from Paulette Jiles! I don't think many writers can capture the essence of Texas better. In this novel, Jiles introduces readers to Simon, an accomplished fiddler from Kentucky and a young man with big dreams.Set immediately following the end to the Civil War, Simon finds himself down near Brownsville and decides to set off with a few other musicians to make some money, buy some land and try and find a young woman that he has captured his heart. They travel up the coast of Texas, through Galveston, then Houston, stopping to play along the way so that they have money to live on.When Simon finally finds his love, he also finds quite a bit of trouble awaiting him. Although at times, the story was a bit slow moving, the ending was certainly exciting as Simon finds out whether or not he wins the girl and what sacrifices are involved in doing so.Jiles paints such a vivid picture of post-war Texas in a time where martial law was in place and emotions were still running high. Having deep roots in Texas, I especially loved this snapshot of what life was like for my ancestors during this time in history. I also loved the little surprise Jiles added to the story, that only readers of her previous work will notice.Many thanks to William Morrow for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
  • (4/5)
    It is late 1864 and the Civil War is beginning to wind down. Simon Boudlin, a 23-year old itinerant musician, has done his best to avoid the conflict by pretending to be a much younger man. Eventually, he is conscripted into the Confederate army and survives one of the last battles of the war in the Rio Grande valley of Texas. He meets Doris Dillon, a beautiful Irish woman who left home to become an indentured servant to the family of a Union officer, and quickly falls in love with her. However, Doris’ service contract forbids personal relationships and so Simon sets off on a two-year journey to seek his fortune playing in bars and private gatherings as a fiddler in a pickup band. His adventures lead him from the Mexican border to Galveston, Houston, and southern Texas before finally ending up in San Antonio. There, he hopes to reunite with Doris, who has faced constant hardships and dangers of her own, and start a life together.In Simon the Fiddler, author Paulette Jiles weaves Simon and Doris’ story in a tale that is as rich with atmosphere as it is with character development. As in her wonderful novel News of the World, Jiles has a very special feel for the geography of Texas and she does a masterful job of describing all aspects of both the towns and natural surroundings that Simon moves through on his travels around the state. In fact, it is in these descriptions of the sights, the sounds, and the places where the book really shines. Having been born and raised in Kentucky, Simon is seeing this part of the world for the first time and the author makes us feel as if we are too. She captures beautifully the myriad nuances of this often desolate and lonely landscape, as well as the almost claustrophobic feeling that besets the characters when they find themselves restricted to a well-populated city.What I found to be less successful, though, was the story itself. Although the author tries to repeat the “journey around post-Civil War Texas” frame of News of the World—Captain Jefferson Kidd, the main character from that earlier effort, even makes a cameo appearance—this novel is simply not as engaging. I never really came to care much for Simon, who frequently acted impulsively in ways that seemed unjustified by his sad upbringing, to find his story to be that interesting. I was willing to be more charmed by Doris than I was, but unfortunately we learn relatively little of her life and backstory for all the time we spend with Simon. The same can be said for some of the supporting characters in the novel, notably Damon and Doroteo, two of Simon’s bandmates. Consequently, while well-crafted and well-written, Simon the Fiddler falls a little short of the high mark the author established with her previous work.
  • (4/5)
    I received an advanced an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy this book.If you like a good story, you will enjoy this book.If you like old time music, you will really enjoy this book.I have not (yet) read any of Ms. Jiles’ previous works, but it is obvious that she is both an accomplished author and musician. The story of Simon the Fiddler is as open as the Texas countryside it is set in. She has done an excellent job of giving the reader a sense life in post-Civil War Texas. The real joy of the book comes from Jile’s lyric and poetic voice as she weaves together the tale of Simon and his band of musical friends with that of Doris the indentured Irish lass and the military family that controls every aspect of her life.What truly sets this book apart is the central role that music plays throughout the story. For this is a story as much about the role that music played in the everyday lives of everyday people as it is about the people themselves. This is a book that comes with its own soundtrack. Even if you don’t know the difference between a jig and a waltz you will quickly hear both in your head as you read Jile’s wonderful (and wonder filled) story.
  • (5/5)
    Simon, a red-headed fiddler, an orphan raised by his great uncle in a livery stable in Paducah, is impressed into the Confederate army at the end of the Civil War and is part of one of the last battles of that war. When it is all over he is part of a "scratch band" for the victorious Union officers. He espies and falls in love with Doris Dillon, a beautiful Irish maid, in service to a cruel quartermaster colonel, and vows to himself he will marry her. He then drifts into post-war, martial law Texas with a few musician friends, making a living, barely, playing in bars and hotels in Galveston and Houston, finally making his way to San Antonio, where he finally is united with Doris. That's the short version, but this is such a damn good story, you really have to read ALL of it to understand Simon, Doris and all the other finely articulated characters of this picaresque tale of SIMON THE FIDDLER. I had read Paulette Jiles's earlier Civil War novel, ENEMY WOMEN, a dozen or more years ago, and I remember marveling at just how good it was, and passed it along to my mother, who was an avid lover of books too. She loved it too. Jiles seems to have a thing about the U.S. Civil war and its aftermath, because it's been part of her work for a long time now. And these books are every bit as good as Charles Frazier's COLD MOUNTAIN and Jeffrey Lent's AFTER THE FALL. Gritty and realistic, Simon's story also has its softer moments, particularly when he finally meets Doris in person and their personalities instantly meld, through their love of music and quirky sense of humor. And there are other characters that will grab you here too, the other members of Simon's traveling musicians (and yes, I did think of the Brothers Grimm and that story of the traveling troupe of Bremen) - Damon (tin whistle), Dora (guitar) and Patrick (percussion - bodhran). And there is another very minor character, a Captain Kidd, who, with a little research, I found to be the central character of Jiles's previous novel, NEWS OF THE WORLD. (I've GOTTA read that one now.)SIMON THE FIDDLER has something for everyone in it - history, violence, disease, death, and, of course, a wonderful love story. I loved this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER
  • (4/5)
    Love and war have certain things in common. Each takes us out of our comfort zone. Both can be dangerous. Both can cause us do things we would not otherwise do.And so we have the situation in “Simon the Fiddler,” the new novel from Paulette Jiles. Simon Boudin, a young introvert who wants only to play his fiddle and learn the secret he believes every song contains, manages to avoid conscription until the very end of the War Between the States, when he is forced into a Confederate uniform. His fiddle at least spares him from most front-line duty, and he is placed in an army band with a few other musicians.The end of the war doesn't mean the end of danger for Simon, for by then he is in Texas, now mostly under military control while he and his mates lack proper discharge papers. Their instruments give them opportunities to make a little money, but also make it more difficult for them to stay under the radar.So why not leave Texas and head for someplace safer? Because that's where Doris Dillon is. She is a pretty Irish immigrant pledged to serve the family of an army officer for a few years. That officer is a cruel man who has eyes for Doris himself, at least when his wife isn't around.Simon has never met Doris, but he sees her at one of his performances, where he plays an Irish song for her. The pair carry on a secret correspondence, while he pursues her and tries to find a way to rescue her and then get her to marry him. Toward the latter end, he buys some property along the Red River, sight unseen. Why would a fiddler want to become a rancher? Because he believes land might be more of an enticement to this Irish girl than a fiddle. But he doesn't really know this Irish girl.You may think you know how this is going to end, but Jiles will surprise you. This is a beautifully written, beautifully structured novel that explores new territory in that old story about love and war.
  • (4/5)
    Once again, Paulette Giles has captured the grittiness, eccentricities and larger than life characters of the Old West. Beginning as the Civil War draws to a close, this novel follows Simon the Fiddler and his band of misfit friends as they struggle to survive and find Simon’s love interest. Slower in pace than some of Jiles’ other novels, this should still be a hit with her fans.
  • (4/5)
    3.5 The Civil War is near the end. Simon, had managed, helped by looking younger than his years, to escape having to serve in either army. His luck runs out, when the conscriptors, grab him and he finds himself in the Confederate army, playing music in a rag tag regimental band. There he will meet two other musicians and a young boy who pretended to be older than his actual age. At wars end these four will set out together trying to make a living, playing here and there. Simon has a goal, he has fallen in love, yes love at first sight, but he intends to win this young lady, come hell or high water.Once again Jiles is spot on with her portrayal of time and place. The details, the politics, the confusion in the South at wars end, serve to authenticate this time. The characters are well rounded and for the most part likable. I was loosely reminded of Chaucer's Canterbury Tale, because as the friends move from place to place, the band looses a member, one through no fault of his own. As they leave though, we learn their backstories, and why they joined the conflict. The book is extremely well written. I did feel that it latter at certain times, which is refected in my rating. Also, though I liked all the characters, I missed one that tugged on my heart strings, a sympathetic character. Despite that this book was a good one, well worth reading and a different type of character.This was Angela, Lise, and my, February read and as always I so appreciate my two bookie friends.ARC from Librarything.
  • (3/5)
    Paulette Jiles writes quiet, meticulously researched historical stories, and Simon the Fiddler is no exception to this successful formula. As the title suggests, Simon Boudlin plays the violin in Texas during the waning days of the Civil War. Caught in the chaos, he and a group of musicians desert and travel a dangerous route through the state playing when and where they can get paid. He cannot forget Doris Dillon--the nanny of the Colonel he ran away from--and he dreams of a way to marry her and live a peaceful family life. Jiles captures the lawless and confusing Texas landscape as the group moves from Galveston to Houston to San Antonio, but the story drags as much as the traveling. This is not the tight narrative of Jiles’ beloved News of the World, but a much longer and drawn out one--too much so for me; much of the middle of the book floundered with no real plot. Still, Jiles’ fans and readers of historical fiction may enjoy this interesting look at a time and place not often written about, and enough happens in the last 75 pages to almost make up for the lack of action prior.
  • (4/5)
    Paulette Jiles returns to Texas right after the Civil War in Simon the Fiddler. As in her successful News of the World, this Texas is vivid; the military occupation, lawlessness -- and possibilities -- all shine through. JIles' prose brings Texas to life: "enormous towering clouds built up over the Gulf and sailed inland carrying, it seemed to him, secret messages about blue storms and pirates and tales of giant unknown fish."Music is at the heart of the story. One character tells Simon that they won't hang a fiddler -- carpenters, laborers, merchants, yes -- but not a fiddler. People's lives are hard after the war and music takes them to better places for a little while.Her protagonist, Simon, is a brilliant character that we cheer for from the moment we meet him, hiding from conscription officers. While Simon drives the plot, we also have sidekicks, a true love, and a villain, turning this into a rollicking adventure that keeps us turning the pages.
  • (4/5)
    This story begins in Texas in October 1864, when we meet Simon Boudlin, 23 but counting on his youthful appearance to avoid conscription into the Confederate Army. When he finally is impressed, he is placed in a regimental band in Lt. Col. George H. Giddings's Texas Cavalry Battalion. Unfortunately for Simon, this was the regiment that became involved in the last battle of the Civil War at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas. Although the war had ended, a Union officer apparently was unwilling to go home without accruing some glory from battle, against the express orders of his superiors.[The action lasted a total of four hours. Confederate casualties were a few dozen wounded. The federals lost 111 men and four officers captured, and thirty men wounded or killed.]Following the battle, Simon was ordered to play (along with a small group of other musicians from both armies) at a dinner for the officers. There he was immediately smitten with Doris Dillon, an 18-year-old Irish girl who was indentured for three years to Colonel Webb. (In this book, Webb was the Union officer who ordered the conflict, although in real life it was Colonel Theodore H. Barrett). Simon sees how Colonel Webb mistreats Doris, but can do no more than play her an Irish tune he hopes conveys his regard for her.Simon’s skill with music has gotten him out of more than a few scrapes, including when he assaulted a Union soldier for trying to steal his fiddle, his prized Markneukirche violin, which“cost him years of meticulous saving.” [In real life, Markneukirchen is the main town of the small musical instrument-making region in Germany, known for four centuries for high quality brass and string instruments.]The author writes:“He knew he did not play music so much as walk into it, as if into a palace of great riches, with rooms opening into other rooms, which opened into still other rooms, and in these rooms were courtyards and fountains with passageways to yet more mysterious space of melody, peculiar intervals, unheard notes.”Perhaps more critical to his success, his repertoire “seemed to be without end. He had a bottomless supply of waltzes, jigs, reels, hornpipes, and slow airs. Some of the slow airs could bring men and women to a standstill, their eyes brimming with tears for a remembered love or a certain long-lost valley at twilight or another country without war, taken by emotions of loss and exile for which they had no words.”Here Jiles has indeed captured exactly the nature of music’s appeal. Simon contrives a way to correspond with Doris through the young boy who is his Irish-American drummer, and they keep track of each other over the next year and a half until he can get to San Antonio to see her again. First he and his small band of musicians have to make their way across the interior of South Texas, earning money as they go by playing for whoever will hire them. The author’s descriptions of the territory and its people reflect the great deal of research she has made into the post-Civil War era in the Southwest (having fashioned three novels so far in this setting), as shown in this view the characters had of the land after they crossed the Brazos River:"Then through the river-valley forests on the far side and once again up onto grassland, where groups of feral cattle with great lyre-shaped horns stared at them from a distance. . . . With the recent rains the cenizo was flowering in clouds of magenta and the yucca sent up its white silky candelabras. This was the interior of south Texas, where all the maps faded away, the murky rivers came from unknown sources, and the world’s authority lay in firepower and the loyalty of those who rode with you.” When Simon arrives in San Antonio, it is not long before both he and Doris are in danger from the evil but (sadly) realistic person of Colonel Webb. I found myself skipping to the end to assuage my anxiety for the characters before I could go back and follow the course of the action.Evaluation: I never miss the opportunity to read a new book by Paulette Jiles. Her novels explore violent historical periods with ironically poetic eloquence, and in a voice unlike any other author I have read. She does a great deal of research, and then dramatizes conflicts among people in the era about which she is reporting with an unstinting yet lyrical eye. This novel takes place during the same period as her previous book, News of the World, and in fact, the main character from that book makes a cameo appearance in this one. The post-Civil War period in Texas was one particularly given to dramatic developments given the unsettled status of law in the state and resulting turmoil.Jiles' emphasis on courage and character, as well as on the pain, naivety, and hope of love, results in an unforgettable stories. This novel is no exception.
  • (5/5)
    The author and reader were wonderful, lots of old time phrases. Loved it
  • (4/5)
    The Dr. Visit at the end- you can picture how much Doris loves Simon