The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton
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The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  1,511 ratings  ·  198 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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(showing 1-30 of 2,459)
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Brenda C Kayne
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
Adrienne Jones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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)...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...more
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
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...more
Dara Salley
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...more
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 K...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
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...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...more
Ron Charles
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'...more
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...more
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...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Jane Smiley's The All-True Trials and Adventures of Lidie Newton is historical fiction done pretty darn well. Set in pre-Civil War Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas Territory, the novel follows Lydia Newton through her marriage to an abolitionist; their homesteading in Lawrence, Kansas and its environs; and her subsequent travels around Missouri. Lidie is a thoroughly sympathetic character: a bright, honest woman who dislikes rules for rule's sake, pretension, cruelty, and inaction. Throughout the...more
This was a pretty interesting book all in all. A much better offering from Jane Smiley than the others I've read. She definitely writes flawed characters (or at least characters who aren't perfect), but most of the other books have also had characters that I couldn't have cared less about.

In this one, at least you're interested in what happens to Lidie Newton. It's the story of a young, independent woman who marries an abolitionist and moves to the new Kansas Territory. Smiley did work hard to p...more
I've had this book for years - it was a big paperback and put me off reading it. It is difficult to read at times, I found the writing a little bit long winded, but that's possibly because the author was writing in the the 'language' of the mid 1840s to give the book an authentic feel. The book has a lot of characters which I did find confusing at times but it's a great adventure story of Lidie Newton who after her father's death finds herself at the mercy of her elder sisters, who aren't impres...more
I’m not sure where my copy of the book came from, but The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel by Jane Smiley found its way to the top of the pile under my bed. The first person narrated novel covers the settlement of the Kansas Territory prior to the Civil War. It’s not a period that I know much about, so I can’t speak for the accuracy of the story. However, I have found myself looking through the book to check and see if it really is a novel several times. It reads as truth...more
emi Bevacqua
Lidie Newton was an interesting tomboy of a character, and her All-True Travels and Adventures taught me a lot about American history prior to the Civil War, specifically as it took place in K.T. or Kansas Territory between Free Staters (Abolitionists) and the Slavers.

Lidie's constant wavering between ideals and sides and opinions, although realistic, grated my nerves towards the end. I liked reading about a lot of the supporting characters more than her, and after 452 pages I was sad not to kn...more
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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...more
More about Jane Smiley...
A Thousand Acres Moo Horse Heaven The Sagas of Icelanders Private Life

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