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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.3 out of 5
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  • AN Extra Special Read

    I received a free trade paperback ARC of this excellent historical novel from Goodreads, Paulette Jiles, and William Morrow publishers. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Paulette Jiles is on my must-read author list, she is a novelist/poet/memoirist who always hits one out of the ballpark. The subjects of her works are so versatile that the only thing they have in common is an unputdownable binge read, and a yearning for more books, immediately. This novel takes place just before the last battle of our Civil War, in southern Texas. Simon managed to avoid conscription on both sides of the War, mainly because of his small stature, boyish looks, and quick retreats as necessary. When he is caught by the Confederate conscription men in March of 1865 at a gig in Victoria, Texas, 23-year-old Simon Boudlin, a native of Paducah, Kentucky, is added to their role by the name of Simon Walters - hopefully, folks looking for him will tire of the chore before they get to the 'W's. Fortunately, he is captured while playing his treasured violin, and so he is added to the Confederate military band and is able to keep and protect the Markneukirche violin he treasures so. It took him years to save enough to puy that fiddle. After the official surrender, Simon is part of a military band made up of both US and Dixie soldiers and including a French military man who wandered up from the Mexican War who's main contribution to music is a tuneful hum. With a little practice, they make beautiful music together, and the Markneukirche has never sounded better. The violin is Simon's first love - until he meets indentured Irish governess, Doris Mary Dillon, in the employ of Colonel Webb with time still to go on her 3 years of servitude she agreed to before Colonel Webb paid for her passage to America. Though they have barely spoken, they both feel an instant bonding and cannot imagine how they will meet again, but know they must. We wander at will with Simon, as he plays with pickup bands and the core of the military band at war's end. Stashing as much as he can of his share of the gigs, Trying and often succeeding to stay out of trouble, Simon begins looking at land purchases. A man must have land to fulfill his dreams. Rumor has it that Colonel Webb and family have been assigned to the fort located at the Alamo outside San Antonio, TX, and Simon is slowly but surely making his way north and west. The journey is exciting, the picture of central and hill country Texas is spot on and her best view even today, and the pain and joy following the ending of the Civil War are portrayed in living color. This is a book to treasure. It is one I would have loved to read to my Mom. One I will read again, in time, as Jiles is great on a first read, but a true treasure on every additional trip into her world.

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  • Texas after the Civil War story

    This was a very good read, well written and interesting throughout with a plot that kept your attention as Simon the fiddler struggles in the aftermath of war to make it as a musician and get the young Irish lass with whom he falls in love. Highly recommend this one,

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  • Alright

    I was a little disappointed, because News of The World was so good, and so was expecting this to be as well. Interesting but not great.

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