Lanea's Reviews > The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton

The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley
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Jan 28, 09

bookshelves: fiction, women-writers, historical-fiction
Read in January, 2006

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 novel, I found myself rooting for Lidie and her friends. I'd be shocked to find someone who didn't do the same.

My only gripes surround pacing. Smiley's reliance on period-style writing leaves the novel lagging in a few sections. But it's all forgivable, considering just how well Smiley handles her own version of period prose. As usual, the author did her homework well. This is, overall, a well-researched book with engaging characters and an unusually honest view of the west's roll in the Civil War.
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