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Bleeding Kansas

3.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,453 Ratings  ·  318 Reviews
The New York Times bestseller from the author of Fire Sale

In Kansas, three families have coexisted not-so-peacefully for more than one hundred and fifty years: the Grelliers, the Fremantles, and the Schapens. Into their lives comes Gina Haring, a relative of the Fremantles who is house-sitting the derelict family mansion while she puts her own life in order. Her lifestyle
Audio CD, 14 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Brilliance Audio (first published January 1st 2007)
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The novel is not a V I Warshawski book but I read it now because I am going through Sara Paretsky's books in the order in which she published them. The only other non-Warshawski novel so far was Ghost Country but that one was set in Chicago, as are all the Warshwskis. This is a stand-alone set in Kansas.

I guess because of the title I thought it would be about the bloody conflict over slavery, John Brown, etc. Since I read The Good Lord Bird earlier this year, I figured that would be fine.

Larry Bassett
Jul 15, 2012 Larry Bassett rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have been reading some of Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski series and enjoying them. I got this book by mistake thinking it was part of the series. It is not. On GR it is misidentified as a mystery. It is only logical: Paretsky writes mysteries. Paretsky wrote Bleeding Kansas. Therefore, Bleeding Kansas is a mystery. Hardly. Fiction is what it is.

This is a book full of extremes. It has Wiccan. It has Hassidic Jews. It has born again Christians. It has locals who vehemently support and oppose the war
Nov 17, 2008 L rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think we're supposed to like Susan. I don't. She is just that annoying! I do, however, dislike most of the Schapens as thoroughly as is expected.

I guess this is Paretsky's ode to her home. The cover promises a "gripping novel," a "strong and stark protrayal of the heartland." Well, it does seem to be a solid, good read, populated with real people. The writing is as good as we expect frm Paretsky. For instance, " . . . she's one more teenager in a place where everyone seems to lead disturbed o
Jan 19, 2009 Shruts rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This paperback weighs in just under 600 pages. As one might expect, this results in some pretty slow sections, particularly early on.

A long-time fan of Paretsky's VI Warshawski detective series, I was intrigued by this book's premise: connecting the pre-civil war strife in Kansas to modern days "warfare" between long time neighbors in the same town 150 years later. So I was rather surprised when I found I could easily put this book down with astonishingly transparent excuses.

I started this befo
Apr 28, 2015 Rod rated it really liked it
Just about the freakiest story i've ever heard. (and yet it reminds me of 100's of people i've met.) YES, these folks do exist. From Wiccans to Charismatic lunatics to just REALLY mean folks who use the Word LOVE in a hateful way.

But it's all horrifically fun! Imagine a small Kansas town with Christian liberals and Charismatics generally trying to avoid each other - then add some Naked Wiccan Fire dancers... Splendid chaos that ends up with the Chosen Red Heifer (Think Jewish Temple Altar sacri
Jul 15, 2012 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My previous exposure to Sara Paretsky was through her V.I. Warshawski novels. Warshawski is a tough lady detective pursuing criminals through the gritty landscape of urban Chicago. The setting for this novel is a far removed from Chicago, both geographically and culturally and without Warshawski. A forth generation Kansas farm family finds itself dealing with a quickly changing modern world, yet one that is still deeply rooted in the past. Jim Grellier is committed to his farming legacy and love ...more
Feb 04, 2008 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sara Paretsky's Bleeding Kansas has a strong sense of place, especially for those who are familiar with the Lawrence area. However, the characters aren't developed as flesh and blood people, but as signifiers for attitudes. The extremist right-wing Christians are too extreme even for someone like me who has little love for these people and their interfering ways. Jim, the patriarch of the good farm family, is too good to be true, always moderating his attitude and telling his daughter to avoid s ...more
May 01, 2008 Teeni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New favorite author alert! There's nothing I love more than reading a terrific book and then finding out the author has other books on the library shelf! This is one of those authors. The story was good, the characters were real and I couldn't put it down.
Jun 28, 2010 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The negative reviews I have read regarding this book deal mostly with the stereotypes portrayed in this book. However, knowing a real-life family just like the Schapens from a small-town farming community in Illinois, I knew that the religious-zealots portrayed in this story were not entirely fabricated. My friend’s mother was EXACTLY like Nanny Schapen!!! That is not why I disliked the book; in fact I really liked it up until the events on Halloween (near the end). My reason for giving this boo ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Tamela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've read Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski novels and I assumed this would be similar. Unfortunately, I let myself be influenced by my enjoyment of the Warshawski novels, and was therefore completely blindsided by "Bleeding Kansas." This is one time Paretsky should have stuck to the knitting. "Bleeding Kansas" was not well written, the characters felt like caricatures rather than believable actors and the whole thing felt disjointed, sort of like a cake with raspberry filling and pickle-flavored frost ...more
Mar 27, 2011 Kristie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I could have given 1/2 of a star, I would have because this was such a poorly written book. I am embarrassed to say I helped to choose this one for my book club and it was unanimous--each of us was thoroughly disappointed in the story and all of the historical inaccuracies. (The good thing is we now have a new low for a baseline when we don't like a book--is it as bad as or worse than "Bleeding Kansas"?)

The story was convoluted with every societal issue possible--teenage sex, over the top rel
Jan 19, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first picked this book up at the library because of the author. I love her mysteries, so I didn't read the back of the book. It was the unabridged audio version. I started listening and was waiting and waiting for the mystery to kick in but needless to say it didn't. I almost quit listening but then it hooked me.

This is a story of a small town and 3 of the families that live there: Grelliers, Schapens and Burtons. It addresses old conflicts in a modern era and Paretsky does it remarkably. The
Mar 23, 2009 Tabatha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the WORST book I ever finished. The author chooses to set a novel about bible belt Christians in one of the most liberal towns in all of the midwest and plains. This is just one of the improbabilities and extremes in this story. The characters have no redeeming qualities except Jim. He is the only one who seems "real." She sets the novel with some attention to detail about local history and geography then makes up fictitious locations that would have relevance to the story. The story has ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Nancy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were too many characters in the book. It was difficult to follow. I live fairly close to the location to the story and went to school at Lawrence. There were some locations that fit the area, but the people of the area do not fit the people of the town. The title was misleading and let me to believe that the story was set pre civil war which is what the title refers to. I am sorry the author left such a negative impression of the people of the area. There were some interesting characters b ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Tomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I dithered about what rating to give this book, but after I found myself reliving it and yelling at the characters while running errands this morning, I realized it deserved 4 stars. It is a novel about consequences. There are only three characters who are even remotely decent people and they are the ones who suffer tremendously due to what others (the jerks) do. Most of the characters are downright evil, despicable toads - Paretsky does an excellent job of describing them. I hated them all. Per ...more
Jul 23, 2009 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel about a farm family living in the husband's ancestral home where the battles between abolitionists and pro-slavery caused many deaths. The wife is obsessed with the history and not very grounded, has named her older child Etienne after an ancestor and won't accept that he hates the name and goes by Chip. The younger child often has to be the adult in the family. The husband does his best but is wrapped up in his farm and doesn't always put the kids first. There are hateful neighbors who ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites so far this year. And I know a lot more about Kansas than I did before. Bonus.
Mar 09, 2014 J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I've been living in Kansas for a couple of years now, and picked this up for a local book club reading, even though it's not the sort of thing I usually read. Paretsky certainly manages to pack a lot of drama into rural Kansas! The book was very easy to read--Paretsky writes solidly--and the plot, even though it slows down at times, remains intriguing enough that I made it through it in 10-or-so days.

Looking at Kansas as an outsider, I think this book does a pretty good job of portraying the loc
Jul 02, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Not really sure why. It could certainly come under the 'soap opera' category; Who's dating who? Is So-and-so gay? Backstabbing. Love letters. Diary excerpts. It's all here. I could certainly understand BK ending up on your DNF list. But amongst the suds I found characters to cheer for, settings I could relate to, and an interesting drama detailing the challenges faced by 2 farming dynasties.
Robert Palmer
I have ,in the past, read a few of Paretsky's mystery's featuring P.I.eye V.I. Warshawski operating in Chicago,i thought they were pretty good crime story's . Bleeding Kansas is not a mystrey,it is set in Kan Valley,Kansas. It is the story of three family's who can trace their roots back to the 1850S when their was much blood flowing over the issue of slavery. The three family's were very much antislavery during the range wars. In the present day the three family"s or not always on the same page ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"In Kansas, on land that once saw some of America's bloodiest antislavery battles, three families have coexisted for more than one hundred fifty years: the Grelliers, the Fremantles, and the Schapens. Once allies in the fight against slavery, today the Schapens and the Grelliers disagree on every subject, from organic farming to the war in Iraq, but above all on religion.

Into their lives comes Gina Haring, a relative of the Fremantles who is house-sitting the derelict family mansion while
Feb 15, 2008 Deborah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mark, Robbie
I liked this book more than I expected to. I almost sent in back to the library unread. An interesting look at faith and morality in modern times, as well as a look at the dynamics of farming communities in the twilight of the American family farm. This is also the second book I've read this month that concerns the "unblemished red heifer."
Apr 21, 2016 Ian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Paretsky’s Warshaski novels although it’s taken me a while to get round to reading her non-Warshawski novels. I read Ghost Country while at Bloodstock, a metal festival, last year, and thought it very good. Bleeding Kansas is… less good. It’s apparently based in part on Paretsky’s own teen years in Kansas, before she moved to Chicago; and, I suspect, although I rather hope not, based on the people she knew from that time. Because they are pretty much all mean-minded and prejudi ...more
Feb 29, 2008 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite novels of the past year. Sara Paretsky does a Wonderful job of writing about two different eras in Kansas. So many novels that attempt to do that seem choppy to me - not this one. This novel integrates the two eras and stories extraordinarily well.
Jan 20, 2014 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Bleeding Kansas", is the Kansas read-of-the-year. I like Sara PArentsky books, but this one was a little to streotypical for my taste. The raging religious fundamentalits (way overdone- we are NOT all Fred Phelps!) vs the free-thinking lesbian Wicca(!) is just somehow too MUCH. Kansans are just not that polarized ot intolerant of others beliefs. At least not in my home, Wichita. I attend a United Metgodist church with several gay/lesbian members; a racial mix and a socioeconomic blend, somehow ...more
Susan Grodsky
Mar 19, 2014 Susan Grodsky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Passionate fans of the author
I don't know what to make of Sara Paretsky. To her credit, this book has a more ambitious theme than her V.I Warshawski potboilers. But with two exceptions, the characters are as one-dimensional as those in the potboilers: the evangelical Christians are greedy, mean, and hypocritical, the ex-hippie is a nasty drunk, the Wiccan from New York City is well-dressed but clueless.

I did appreciate the motif of uneasy neighborliness: When you and your neighbors have lived across the road from each other
Mar 05, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the story of two Kansas farm families whose histories go back to the 1850's when Kansas was being settled. The setting is the Kaw Valley in eastern Kansas near Lawrence. Jim and Susan Grellier and their two teenage children, Chip and Lara, live a pretty normal existence. Their neighbors, the Schapens, follow a radical religion and have alienated themselves from most of their neighbors. Gina Haring, a Wiccan from New York, moves into an empty home in the neighborhood owned by her uncle. T ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Barb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-fict
I was not prepared for this book. I have read other title from the author so I thought I was in for a nice mystery. This was so much more. Really focused on bigotry, religious fervor, country life, dealing with loss and depression, and trying to live a "good" life. So much to cover and I think this book did a pretty good job. It doesn't end like we want it to, but life seldom does. Some extremely powerful scenes with lots of tension. I listened to this book and the reader really made it powerful ...more
Jun 04, 2009 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Well. I've had this book sitting next to the laptop for several days now, waiting for me to know what to say about it. I'm still not sure that I've figured it out, but I'm tired of not putting the book away.

Paretsky set this stand-alone novel in her own birthplace, Kansas. Throughout the book, Paretsky jumps between the present day and the 150-year-old journal of the protagonists' ancestor, drawing parallels between the racial intolerance of Civil-War-era Kansas and the religious intolerance of
May 16, 2010 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I'm not so sure...
Recommended to Shannon by: Favorite Author
Shelves: 2010
My cat just hit the mouse such that my entire review of this book just disappeared. Can I just say "ARRRGGGHHH!!!" So, I will try to recreate what I said because I have to admit that (1.) I don't like to write and (2.) I don't think that I am a good writer, so I am about at my limit for writing for the day since I have been catching up on reviews that I have neglected on Goodreads.

I was not able to write a review immediately for this novel...that may be partly an excuse because I like to read so
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Bleeding Kansas--ACPL Kansas Reads 1 2 Jan 11, 2014 03:49PM  
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Sara Paretsky is a modern American author of detective fiction. Paretsky was raised in Kansas, and graduated from the state university with a degree in political science. She did community service work on the south side of Chicago in 1966 and returned in 1968 to work there. She ultimately completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago, entitled The Breakdown of Moral Philosophy in New E ...more
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