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The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton Paperback – 4 May 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (4 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006551785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006551782
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,155,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘Is there anything Jane Smiley cannot do?’
Pico Iyer, Time

‘A brilliant historical saga, crammed with adventure, tension, tragedy, shameful revelations about slavery in America, haunting reflections on love, marriage, war and politics. An absolute triumph.’ Daily Mail

‘Grandly epic, this is a journey into the heroic American past, never lsoing touch with sheer humanity; a real, old-fashioned, irresistible page-turner.’ Mail on Sunday

‘An engrossing, epic novel. Beautfully written, unforgettable.’ Woman’s Journal

From the Publisher

Reviews
"In choosing Kansas as her narrative, Smiley presents the crucible in which the battle for national identity was at its most bitter and unchecked, and into it she effortlessly mixes a gripping narrative with historical fact. The supremely gifted Smiley takes those facts and builds into them a resonance and emotional truth. In matching history to characters of overpowering humanity, in a setting ringing to the sound of gunshot and the splitting of lumber, Smiley constructs an epic of the human spirit. A miraculous and unerring evocation." MAIL ON SUNDAY

"A touching love story, an episodic adventure and an absorbing account of the settlement of America's mid-West. The characters spring into the mind's eye and their conversation sings in the mind's ear. I loved this book." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

"Grandly epic, this is a journey into the heroic American past, never losing touch with sheer humanity; a real old-fashioned irresistible page-turner." Books of the Year, MAIL ON SUNDAY

"A brilliant historical saga... crammed with adventure, tension, tragedy, shameful revelations about slavery in America, haunting reflections on love, marriage, war and politics. An absolute triumph." Books of the Year, DAILY MAIL

"Inspired social commentary about violence and race is mixed with an old-fashioned girl's adventure story. Lidie is a brilliant creation... a delicate balance of masculine and feminine qualities, an endearing personality whose resilience and independence are extraordinary." DAILY TELEGRAPH


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
The jacket blurb claims that in this book Jane Smiley gives us a 20th century view of life in the 19th century American midwest. At the beginning, I felt overwhelmed by the the 20th century gloss. Naturally we admire a carefree tomboy who can swim the Mississippi in her shift, but isn't that just because we wish that a woman could have been like that then, and still have thrived? As the book progresses, Lidie Newton sheds her skin many times, adapting to every new circumstance with self-preservation, but leaves herself and us wondering who she really is. By the end, I greatly admired Jane Smiley's vision. In Lidie Newton she has created a heroine who just as heroic as the rest of us, and not one bit more. At one moment she is supremely confident of the right action and the next wonders how she could have ever thought herself capable or been so confident. When we look back on the 19th century, we see divisions between men and women, between races, between slave and free, and we confidently see the path to equality for all. But how would we have felt if we'd really lived though it? Jane Smiley has thought that one through, and given us Lidie Newton as an answer.
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Format: Paperback
Lidie Newton might not be the prettiest, or the daintiest heroine of the West, but she is a warm, engaging and continually surprising human being. Lidie makes a love match with Thomas Newton and it is evident that she and her husband are happy together. They are Abolitionists (against slavery) who travel to Kansas to make a claim and settle on the land. The work is hard, but their land is fruitful although the life is nothing like Lidie imagined, especially as the Missourian border cannot keep out raiders and adventurers - and those who enforce counter-claims. The Abolitionists, keep a careful eye on events but things are not going their way. Then disaster strikes and Lidie finds herself on the move.

She is given refuge in a slaver's mansion, after she collapses with exhaustion on the road, but is brought hard up against the pernicious state of slavery - an adventure, certainly, but not without it's dangers as she finds herself travelling the road with a slave woman in an attempted rescue. In the run-up to the American Civil War, Lidie finds her adventure coming to an ignominious end. Large-hearted and determined, Lidie tries at last to do as her conscience dictates, but the war is approaching and in the end she can only save herself.

This is a wide-ranging novel that addresses the subject of slavery somewhat obliquely and has Lidie posing as a boy in an attempt to make some money as a `newspaper man'. This episode is somewhat unconvincing. She is bent on revenge at one point, but this aspect of the story peters out against the confusion and terror of the coming war. I enjoyed Lidie's story immensely and despite some doubtful aspects it gives a convincing picture of the enmities and political shenanigans of the Abolitionists versus the Slavers in the run up to the American Civil War. Seeing this period in America's history from the point of view of an intelligent and resourceful woman is quite a revelation and this novel is a continually enlivening read.
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