Set at the end of the Civil War, this tale centered on the stubborn determination of Simon, an itinerant fiddler, in his quest to define his destiny. As the war is ending, he, and a group of other rag-tag musicians are tasked with entertaining at an end-of–war soiree. Here begins his quest, first, to make a musical ensemble of his companions, and second to acquire the means to catch the attention of the girl of his dreams.
Simon is single-minded of purpose and once he settles on a decision, there is no changing the final goal. Paulette Jiles uses her prose to pull the reader into Simon’s situation, using each character to build the reader’s knowledge of him and allowing them to see both the good and bad sides of him.
Each of the characters in Simon the Fiddler, is unique in background and temperament but they come together to build not only a musical cohort, but also a tight group of friends who accept each other. Jiles’ use of character and situation beautifully captures the chaos of the time while weaving a story that is both enticing and disturbing and leaves the reader wondering what will become of Simon and his dreams.
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