The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel Paperback – Dec 29 1998
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All too often, this abridged version of the cassette edition of The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton leaves the listener breathless. Jane Smiley's 450-page action-packed story of pioneers in the 1850s has been reduced, here, to four compact tapes, each one galloping across the prairie landscape of abolitionist politics and homesteading hardships with the abandon of the Pony Express. Read by actress Mare Winningham (Georgia, St. Elmo's Fire), the tale belongs entirely to its resilient heroine, Lidie Newton, whose whirlwind adventures begin with her marriage to abolitionist Thomas Newton and their departure for the Kansas Territory. There, the uneasy co-existence between emigrant abolitionists and pro-slavery Missourians is forever erupting, spewing forth disreputable characters and spirited subplots that tax even Lidie's tenacious optimism. Winningham has fun adding vocal nuance to this colorful cast, though Lidie emerges a little more refined on tape than she appears in print. In the interest of economy, the tapes also eliminate context-such as the overheated political backdrop for so many events or the private voices of the Newton marriage. Here is Lidie a few months into her marriage, in a passage omitted from this cassette: "Thus, I sat across from my husband. . .wondering whether he was the closed, dull, stiffly upright, and self-righteous person part of me seemed to see, or the pained, lonely, and worried person another part of me seemed to see." By losing these rare glimpses at an introspective Lidie, the tapes sacrifice the deeper dimensions of the book. Stripped of the more writerly Smiley, they leave, instead, a fast-paced, entertaining story, narrowly saved from melodrama by Lidie's clear-eyed view of matters and Smiley's fluid handling of the narrative. If you're not a purist, this abridged version offers a worthwhile diversion for a day's outing-with or without the kids.(5 Hours; 4 cassettes) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
A woman whose abolitionist husband is murdered in 1850s Kansas cuts her hair and tracks his killers to Missouri. A 200,000-copy first printing.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
First, the book is basically divided into two parts--a long segment that takes place in the Kansas Territory, and a not-as-long part that takes Lidie off on the adventures alluded to in the title. The first part is way too long. Although I understand Smiley needed to set everything up in order to knock it down, there must have been a way to do it in fewer pages. Reading about how difficult life is in the Kansas territory gets tiresome after a while, and I was just waiting and waiting for something to happen.
When things finally do begin to happen, however, Smiley crams so much action into the second half of the book that there's barely a chance to take it all in, and the various events lose their impact. After the rush of all these events, the book just kind of fizzles out. You never learn what becomes of the rest of Lidie's life, which is pretty frustrating.
Another problem is that Lidie herself starts out as a neutral sort of character--she becomes an abolitionist because her new husband is one, but she admits that she has never thought much about the issues herself. Maybe Smiley intended to have Lidie become more righteous and firmly abolitionist as the novel went on, but this just doesn't happen. She seems pretty neutral about the slavery issue right up to the end. Which is not to say that the book doesn't take a stand against slavery--it does, in a powerful way. But it does so through an escaped slave named Lorna, not through the ambivalent Lidie herself.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I just finished "Lidie Newton" last night and I have to say I'm still divided on whether I'd recommend this book. Read morePublished on May 3 2004 by mktgmom
I began reading this book while on vacation in Pawley's Island, North Carolina. The book came with the house (Nichols). Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2004
I wrote a review while I was still reading this, and now that I'm done, I've downgraded it to a one star. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2001 by Justine Cardello
I read a lot of historical fiction, and am by training an historian, so I feel qualified to give this book a solid thumbs-up review. Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2000 by Chuck Sherrill
Jane Smiley has done her best job ever! I liked A THOUSAND ACRES, but I loved LIDIE NEWTON. I knew very little about pre-Civil War Kansas, and by the time I finished the book, I... Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2000
This work is certainly nothing like Moo, the only other Smiley book I'd read to date. While I enjoyed that book, I REALLY enjoyed this one. Read morePublished on March 23 2000
Jane Smiley is one of my favorite authors (I adored A Thousand Acres). However, this was a huge disappointment. I never could get into the book... Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2000 by Teresa J. Wolfe
I've read most of Jane Smiley's books, and found this one in hardcover at rock-bottom-remainder prices. I bought it just because I was out of reading material... It was wonderful! Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2000
This historical fiction was loaded with interesting twists and characters; however, it was a little slow moving. Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2000