The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton By Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley
Sep 28, 2011

Lidie Harkness is destined for spinsterhood; at least her older step-sisters think so. She lacks interest in the domestic skills required of ladies in Quincy, Illinois circa 1850's.  She would rather spend her time reading, riding, swimming, and shooting. Seeking a solution to her questionable future, she is lured by the advertised prospects of pristine countryside and pleasant weather in Kansas (really!).  She is introduced to Thomas Newton who is headed to the Kansas Territory (K.T.) to stake a claim and support the abolitionists’ cause for Kansas to enter the Union as a free state.  He needs a wife with Lidie's gumption and proposes marriage.  The travels and adventures of Lidie and Thomas Newton begin. The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton has two sections.  Book One is filled with historical facts regarding the early settlement of Lawrence, Kansas and the Border Wars.  Author Jane Smiley has done her research regarding the skirmishes that occurred.  Her numerous characters are primarily fictional, but the plot incorporates names we know from this time period:  Sara T.L. Robinson (Smiley read Mrs. Robinson’s diary, Kansas; Its Interior and Exterior Life: Including  a Full View of Its Settlement, Political History, Social Life, Climate, Soil, Productions, Scenery, Etc, as part of her research), Jim Lane, John Brown, and many moreThis richly detailed narrative requires the reader's close attention to read and absorb. Book One lays the foundation for Book Two where the action really begins as Lidie launches into a dangerous odyssey of her own. This book should appeal to historical fiction fans and to anyone interested in the lifestyle of the early K.T. settlers, and their foes and neighbors, the Missourians.  Another compelling reason to read this book is the upcoming discussion at the Gardner Neighborhood Library on January 25, 2012.  And last, but certainly not least, Jane Smiley will visit the Johnson County Library on April 10, 2012.

Written by Library Staff