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The all-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton
The all-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton Author:Jane Smiley Jane Smiley's game heroine prides herself on being useless, ill-tempered, and not that well behaved; in Illinois, circa 1855, a plain, penniless, parentless young woman should be anything but. Lidie, however, can ride a horse--and not sidesaddle, either--walk forever, write, and argue. All of these abilities will stand her in good stead when she... more » and her new husband, Thomas Newton, make their way to K.T. (Kansas Territory) with a case of Sharps rifles and a desire to keep Kansas from slavery. Alas, "In K.T., it was often the case that every version of every story was equally true and equally false."
The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton is a Little House on the Prairie for grownups. Lidie's accounts of homesteading, from buying a new stove to coming upon the finest horse in the territory (and among the finest in literature), combine character, charm, and social history. (Smiley's chapter titles alone--which include "I Eavesdrop, and Hear Ill of Myself" and "Papa Is Cordial"--are worth the price of admission. "Papa," by the way, is an aged anti-abolitionist who wants to marry her.) But there is also menace. Early on, for example, Lidie pastes her home with "leaves of The Liberator and some other papers that Thomas had brought with him from the United States. This, he said, would serve the threefold purpose of advertising our views to our visitors, reminding ourselves of the arguments to be made in the cause, and keeping out the wind. Every leaf, according to the new laws of Kansas Territory, was treasonable."« less