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The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel Paperback – Dec 29 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Dec 29 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449910830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449910832
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 2 x 13.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,922,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I just finished "Lidie Newton" last night and I have to say I'm still divided on whether I'd recommend this book. I guess the best way to qualify it is that I'm not sure I'd suggest it to a friend, but I'd definitely like it if my daughters read it.
I make my home in Kansas City and so the historical aspect was particularly interesting to me, probably much more so than for someone who did not grow up here. Having a first-person account from a character as interesting as Lidie also made it more appealing. She's a great character -- more confused than noble, plain, funny, selfish on one hand and tender on the other, smart about some things and really ignorant on others. Jane Smiley knows how to write great characters and Lidie was a much better history lesson than any I remember getting in school. (I had to refresh my memory on the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Missouri Compromise when I read this).
However, I do agree with readers who complain that the book drags in places... it does. Those slower places may reveal some interesting tidbit but what could have been said in one page seemed to go on for five. The temptation to skim was really overwhelming, especially after she leaves K.T. for Missouri. People who are looking for a satisfying ending will not get one, as the book just seems to abruptly stop with no hint of what or where Lidie's life will be made. This is what keeps it from being a "five star" book and an unqualified "must read". Because sometimes I had to MAKE myself read it.
That being said, I'm glad I did. It really made me think about the beliefs and the behaviors of the people who settled here -- some, my own relatives. While most of the book is understandably pro-Kansas, anti-Missouri, Ms.
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By A Customer on Jan. 22 2004
Format: School & Library Binding
I began reading this book while on vacation in Pawley's Island, North Carolina. The book came with the house (Nichols). I was unable to finish it before our vacation came to an end and was tempted to take the book for myself. I resisted temptation and resolved to purchase a copy for myself as soon as I returned home. Waiting for the book to arrive from Amazon.com was torturous.
From the beginning Jane Smiley draws you into the story with her imagery. I could see myself right along side of Lidie through the entire "adventure". If her heart was broken so was mine. If she laughed so did I. I finished with a sense of actually having visited another time and a sense of having intelligence about the history and mindset of that time. A truly fabulous read!
Thanks Jane ~ for the adventure. I'll never forget it.
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Format: Paperback
I've read this novel twice and listened to it once on tape and found it to be thoroughly enjoyable each reading. The description of the conflict in Kansas Territory between the abolitionists and the Missourians was rivoting and engaging. Smiley provided an immense amount of detailed history--clearly she did her homework. Some readers find this distracting from the story; personally, I find that it added an originality and realism to the narrative. This is not a conversational piece; rather it is the narrative of Lidie's experiences, not her emotions. Lidie is appealing to me as a heroine because she is portrayed so realistically with a mix of passive and aggressive traits. As a reader I sometimes found her inaction frustrating; however, inaction is a part of life. Other readers have complained that the novel is depressing; I object to that analysis. The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton is not an escapist novel and one should not expect it to be. In my opinion, it is a de-Romanticized retelling of Huck Finn with a woman as the lead character. I highly recommend this book as one of my favorite novels and Smiley as one of my favorite authors.
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Format: Paperback
I wrote a review while I was still reading this, and now that I'm done, I've downgraded it to a one star. History is supposed to be a backdrop in historical novels, but in this one, Liddie's monotonous narrative about events and people overwhelms the story. I finally began skipping the long narratives, and don't feel I missed anything. Apparently, it seems that Smiley was more interested in showing off her research than in telling a good story.
The second half was really dull. I couldn't really figure out why Liddie pinpointed those certain men as the ones who killed her husband. That was really unclear. Her dressing as a man held promise, but that fizzled out too quickly. Her reasons for not accepting a lift to Independence were entirely unconvincing. Worse yet was the ending. We have Liddie return home finally to Quincy, and then the story suddenly skips ten years to the end of the Civil War. She says that she and Frank spoke of Kansas for the first time--but what was she doing ten years in the future? Where was she living, was she married, or what?
All I can say, is I'm glad I bought it used. Better yet, I should've just borrowed it from the library.
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Format: Paperback
I'm still reading this book, but it is not what I expected. I thought this would be a story of an adventurous young woman who travels out west and does something--maybe starts a business, opens a saloon, becomes the first female sheriff...instead, she marries and has a man take her to Kansas, and all they're doing is fighting the pro-slave folks from Missouri. In between, she's cooking corncakes and sewing quilts. What happened to the strong woman from the first few chapters?
At any rate, I can't keep track of all of the characters that are thrown in. All of their friends in K.T. are completely indistinguishable from one another. I find that I'm skipping paragraphs and even pages of boring dialog and trying to get back to Liddie's story. The history is interesting, but it's getting tiring because it's the same thing repeated over and over again. So maybe I'll read on, because I would like to see some adventure and travels as the title says. But for now, a two star is all its getting.
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