04 May 2020

Simon the Fiddler | Book Review


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 Dillon, 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.

Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: April 14, 2020


Simon Boudlin spent years avoiding his duty to join the fight of the Civil War. It is not until the war’s final days that he is caught and conscripted into the Confederate Army. His fiddling talent lands him an easy gig in the regimental band. At the end of the war, he must perform for a party of officers, where he first encounters Doris, an indentured Irish girl that captures his heart.

As Paulette Jiles then continues Simon the Fiddler, Simon goes on to find ways to achieve his dreams in the aftermath of the war, and I so wanted to love it all. I had such high hopes for this book. However, I quickly found that the style of writing just did not work for me. As I read, the storytelling felt dry, so my mind easily wandered, causing me to lose track of the story. I never found myself engaged enough to enjoy it.

Still, I recognize that Simon the Fiddler has the potential to be a great read. Anyone who enjoys books from Jiles, especially News of the World, should definitely consider checking this one out.


I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


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.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for giving this one a try! Sara @ TLC Book Tours