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The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,869 Ratings  ·  229 Reviews
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 aba ...more
Audio Cassette, Abridged, 0 pages
Published March 24th 1998 by Random House Audio (first published December 12th 1991)
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Jennifer Just found the answer to my own question. Had to read to page 93, to find it ("A Letter to Illinois)-1855.
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Oct 26, 2014 Chrissie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, hf, race, audible, 2014-read
The first half of the story is really, really good, but the second half doesn't quite ring true.

Nevertheless, the book isn't bad. I think it is improved by listening to rather than reading it. The narration by Anna Fields improves the book. The lines themselves are worth spending time on. Fields reads these lines with strength, clearly and strongly and slowly. You have time to think about what is being said. Secondly, through the narration the different characters' personalities come through di
Brenda C Kayne
May 04, 2011 Brenda C Kayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the book is a wonderful, creative piece of historical fiction based on a young woman's experience in Lawrence, Kansas just prior to the Civil War. The book is a dramatic, robust depiction of what it was like to be a "Free-Stater" and abolitionist among ignorant, gun happy pioneers. Lidie, the adventurous (but not so heroic) protagonist, comes to Kansas and its raucous, intense atmosphere through her marriage to a stoic, well-meaning New Englander. She would never have been allo ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This story of one woman's turbulent life in the newly-created Kansas Territory both entertains and educates. Wanting to escape a life of household chores in her sisters' homes, Lidie marries an abolitionist passing through her Illinois town on the way to Kansas. The Kansas Territory isn't what she expected, though, and she spends the bulk of the book dealing with challenges ranging from terrible weather to violent Border Ruffians.

Unlike some other reviewers, I found this book not just well-writ
Jul 01, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing
An interesting look at the 1850s in the Kansas Territory through the eyes of a young woman.

Read by Mare Winningham.
Lasts about 5 hours.

I purchased the abridged version of The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton on tape (5 hours) and found it to be quite enjoyable. The listener is treated to a ground level view of the politics of slavery in the 1850s and how violence based on the 'goose question' (code for the slavery issue) swept through households, towns and eventually the entire
Adrienne Jones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 22, 2012 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I just finished The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton. Someone in this club had read it, and it sounded interesting.

First of all I want to say, that after years of experience I no longer read 'book reviews' ala The New York Times, Business Week, etc. until I've finished a book. I enjoy putting thought and effort into my reading, and I can't stand the idea that my thoughts aren't original. I absolutely hate when people read the popular book du jour, (or watch a film for that matter)
My mom insisted on buying this for me at a garage sale. I think I'd give it 3.5 stars. It was very well-written and I couldn't put it down for the last 100-150 pages (it's 400+) because I had to know what was going to happen to Lidie. There are certainly many twists and turns. I just can't give it 4 stars because the ending was a little disappointing. I don't want to be a spoiler. It wasn't poorly written or even poorly conceived; I think that, as the reader, I was invested in Lidie and just wis ...more
Andrew Breslin
Jan 13, 2010 Andrew Breslin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jane Smiley is one of my favorite writers, and this is my favorite of her books. A Thousand Acres got a lot more attention, including the Pulitzer Prize and an insultingly modified Hollywood adaptation, but this is the one that really blew me away.

You can't really discuss this book without comparing it to Huckleberry Finn, one of the greatest books ever written, hands down, no contest. Both concerned escaped slaves seeking freedom during the tumultuous period preceding the Civil War. In fact, my
Dara Salley
Jul 14, 2011 Dara Salley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I was a little put off by the title because it seemed a little whimsical to me, but I think it was just meant to be a reference to the overly ornate titles of certain books in the 1800’s.

The book made me think about slavery in a different way. From my vantage point in history slavery has always seemed like a majestic moral issue. Reading this book made me realize that before the Civil War slavery was just another contentious political issue, similar to the h
Mar 12, 2009 Nomi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have liked Jane Smiley books in the past and looked forward to this one. Unfortunately, I think it would have been better named the Trials and Tribulations rather than Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton. I am from Lawrence, KS myself, so reading about Lawrence in 1855 was of interest to me for many reasons. I kept slogging through, hoping the story would pick up and carry me along, but ultimately I felt "message" overshadowed "story," a perspective I didn't really develop till reading the ...more
Apr 27, 2010 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-novel
One reviewer called this book Little House on the Prairie for Adults. A cutsy turn of phrase, but not what I thought this book deserved.
Set in the 1850s in Kansas Territory, the story is about the people who were settling the area, how they survived the winter on the prairie and how high the feelings ran about whether or not the area would enter the United States as free or slave.
Lidie Newton comes to this Kansas Territory with her husband, Thomas, who is an abolitionist, determined to insure
Jan 14, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fun
I really loved this book, but I could tell that it would not be universally appealing. My favorite part of the book is the author's excellent representation of the culture of the time period and the accurate and detailed portrayal of the many different settings throughout America in which heroine lives. Some readers may find some of Lidie's adventures toward the end of the novel a little far-fetched, but I felt like it added some good fun. Lidie Newton is certainly not your average heroine but s ...more
Oct 04, 2012 Linda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
So bad I couldn't finish it. That means bad, because I almost always finish books I pick up, even if I don't like them much.
All I remember is a very inconsistent voice; she couldn't make up her mind whether her narrator would speak as an uneducated rube or one who would use stilted, formal expressions probably not encountered often in the plains in those days. These things would pop up within sentences of each other. Book club selection chosen by someone else. If I had gone on any further, I env
These are the adventures of Lidie Newton. She's born, her mother dies, she gets sent to live with her half-sister, her father's daughter not her mother's daughter. Then her father dies, they have a funeral. Her half-sisters discuss what should be done with her. She is married off to an abolitionist and leaves for Kansas. They travel in a steamboat. They stake a claim, build a cabin of sorts, sleep on a hand sewed bed that Lidie sewed, even though she tell us at the beginning of the book that she ...more
May 31, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: Found it on a friend's bookshelf
My father's grandmother told me about escaping across the river in a boat, being driven out of Kansas by the Slave State ruffians. This piece of history, "Bleeding Kansas," was only briefly mentioned in my history classes, and my great-grandma didn't live long enough to tell me much more about it. This book explores what it was like to go to Kansas to settle, to work to make it a free state, and to be overtaken by a bloody prelude to the American Civil War.
My interest is mainly personal. Jane S
Jul 07, 2015 HeavyReader rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grown-up fans of the Little House on the Prairie books
Shelves: fiction
I've read several books by Jane Smiley and found none of them very exciting. They all seemed alike to me--stories of modern people with modern problems written in a way that didn't really hold my attention or move me. I almost didn't pick up this book because I though I didn't really like Jane Smiley's writing, but it was just ten cents at a thrift store, so I decided to give it a try.

I enjoyed this novel more than anything else I've read by Jane Smiley. The main character (the Lidie Newton of t
Mar 02, 2014 Jessiqa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-but-unowned
This follows Lidie through her marriage and travel to Kansas Territory and then to Missouri in search of three murderers. It takes place in antebellum American at a time when it was dangerous to voice one's opinions on the "goose question," i.e. slavery. Aside from the free-stater vs. Missourian animosity which often erupted in violence, it was a seriously dangerous place to live simply because of the elements and disease.

I have a bachelor's in history and studied this period in American histor
Sydney Avey
Apr 11, 2016 Sydney Avey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading books written in or about past eras brings perspective to present day conundrums. Is America more polarized than ever? Not according to Lidie Newton's experience in the Kansas Territory of 1850. At that time, the issue that divided the country was slavery. Smiley's engaging narrative explores the challenges of trying to live peacefully among people who are passionate on two sides of an issue where morality, social and economic drivers, family relationships, and self-interest are hopeless ...more
I enjoyed Lidie's travels more than her adventures, that is I preferred the first half of this book which describes the Midwest of the 1850s through the eyes of a young Eastern bride. The account of the troubles between pro- and anti-slavery forces prior to the Civil War was very well done. The second part of the book, in which Lidie travels in the company of a young slave woman were less realistic. Perhaps if Jane Smiley had not been trying to outdo the journey of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn ...more
To me, the narrative was jumbled and uneven, and at times contrived (“dear reader”). One likable character, Lidie’s nephew Frank, was prominent throughout the first two-thirds of the book, then just disappears, only to have his story tied up in a couple of paragraphs at the very end of the book. Very disconcerting! It is always a pleasure for me to add to my knowledge of history, so I did enjoy the aspects of the book that allowed me to learn something of the struggles in the Kansas Ter
Ron Charles
Dec 15, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ernest Hemingway once said, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called 'Huckleberry Finn,' " and since then a river of ink has flowed to justify that monumental claim.

Two years ago, Jane Smiley went against this current of praise and took the nation's school teachers to task for excusing what she considers Twain's moral passivity in response to slavery.

In Harper's magazine the Pulitzer Prize-winning author wrote, "All the claims that are routinely made for the book'
Christine Ward
Note: The above rating should be 2 1/2 stars.

Having read this previously, I was surprised to find that I had a harder time finishing this book than I expected. As a rule, I like Jane Smiley, and having just finished re-reading "Moo" for the umpteenth time - and raising my rating of it - I expected that my feelings towards this book - which I liked - would not change, or if they did, they would improve. Not so.

In this story, Smiley uses the first-person narrative style (unusual for her) in the vo
May 08, 2012 Regan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I'm generally fond of Jane Smiley's work, but this is not one of my favorites. Lidie Newton has more in common with Smiley's early book The Greenlanders than some of her more famous later novels like Moo or A Thousand Acres focusing on a single woman during a dramatic period in a rapidly shifting and somewhat isolated culture.

The pace of the book is slow and the rhythm is barely undulating rather than surprising or dramatic events leading to a notable climax. It's an odd way to write about a pe
These are the adventures of Lidie Newton. She’s born, her mother dies, she gets sent to live with her half-sister, her father’s daughter not her mother’s daughter. Then her father dies, they have a funeral. Her half-sisters discuss what should be done with her. She is married off to an abolitionist and leaves for Kansas. They travel in a steamboat. They stake a claim, build a cabin of sorts, sleep on a hand sewed bed that Lidie sewed, even though she tell us at the beginning of the book that she ...more
This is a scarier and more grown-up version of Little House on the Prairie. A couple of abolitionists head out to stake a claim in Bleeding Kansas, and meet up with calamity upon calamity. It was a great history lesson--something your usual high school history class glosses over--but got to be very tedious in the first half with its political and philosophical discussions. After the Big Murder (alluded to in the jacket notes, so not really a spoiler), the action picked up a bit, but it was overa ...more
Jul 03, 2008 Kismet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is 1855 and Lidie Newton is a young woman who prides herself on being useless. She has observed the life of her sister, whom she has lived with since her father's death, and knows that learning to sew, cook and care for a home is a slippery slope to a very dull life. Lidie prefers spending time outdoors, either on her own or with her younger nephew, learning how to shoot or swimming in the Mississippi. When a man from the East, passing through Illinois on his way to Kansas Territory, shows an ...more
Dec 23, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at a used book sale-looked like a good story, a good author, with a bit of history being the 1850s violence in Kansas territory and Missouri. My mother's family settled in IL about then, and my father's in MO just after; thought I'd learn a thing or two of my family, and the country. Its well written and engaging; nicely paced. A good read.

I found it rather unusual (or was to me); a story of violent men in joint adventures in a violent, chaotic place; told in the voice of
Kristine Brancolini
That 5-star rating for The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton should really be 4.5, because I was losing heart and about to give up reading the book when everything changed. A tragic event turned the book around for me completely. I didn't know what was going to happen but only because I wasn't paying attention. It was pretty clear that Book 1 and Book 2 would be very different. In Book 1 plain but rebellious Lidie Harkness, of Quincy, Illinois, meets a quiet but thoughtful and well ...more
Lisa Houlihan
The shortcoming of the audio book: Lidie knows how to pronounce "pince-nez" but not "Derbyshire." Which I guess might fit the character and her times, though if you Americanize the pronunciation of the county wouldn't you Americanize that of the spectacles?

This was a fine entertainment. Some bits dragged more than is ideal, but in audio, that doesn't bother me as much as in print.

I enjoy Jane Smiley almost always. Age of Grief didn't work for me, but its format -- three novellas -- worked agains
Aug 12, 2013 Rita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-novel
Ah, Smiley grew up in a St Louis suburb. Maybe partly explains the role of St Louis in the book.
I am very glad for this book. My favorite way of learning history - reading a novel that teaches me some.
Set in 1855, 1856. Mainly about Lawrence KS being settled by abolitionists from the East who idealistically wanted to vote KS into the Union as a free state. Considerable moneyed interests funded months [or even years?] of marauding bands "from Missouri".

Kansas was thus a very violent place at
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Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from John Burroughs School. She obtained a A.B. at Vassar College, then earned a M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar
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“Northerners, even abolitionists, knew more about how and why to chop down the slavery tree than they ever knew what to do with its sour fruit.” 0 likes
“We knew right off how to think of them but not precisely how to feel about them.” 0 likes
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