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Bleeding Kansas

Bleeding Kansas

3.5 28
by Sara Paretsky

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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


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 and beliefs will put her at odds with her neighbors, and test the mettle of a community being swept up in events beyond its control.

Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
Set in the rural Kaw River Valley, where the author grew up, and sparked by a feud between two families that pioneered this farm region during the 1850s, the multigenerational narrative bristles with the kind of prickly social issues that give substance to Paretsky's detective stories.
—The New York Times
Jim Lehrer
There was the 1850s' Bloody Kansas of history, and now there is Sara Paretsky's Bleeding Kansas of fiction. Each is a mix of the real and the imagined, and both are unforgettable. Paretsky, one of America's bestselling crime novelists, has taken a risk with this book. She has written a serious, multi-layered saga that requires her loyal readers to move away from the familiar world of V.I. Warshawski, the Chicago private detective whom Paretsky brought to life in 12 previous novels. In its place, she has created a wild, wicked world in present-day northeastern Kansas that is as complicated as it is mean.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Paretsky takes a break from the mystery genre with this powerful, emotionally genuine tale about the ties of love, family and religious belief in a rural Kansas community. The history of the Schapens, Grelliers and Freemantles in the Kaw River Valley dates back to the mid-19th century, but time, old grudges and religious differences have eroded the bonds of friendship. When John Freemantle's niece moves back to Douglas County, her Wiccan rituals and antiwar activism cause controversy and indirectly inspire teenager Chip Grellier to enlist in the army. After Chip's death in Iraq, the Grellier family begins falling apart. Meanwhile, the fortunes of the Schapens, devout fundamentalist Christians, rise with the emergence of an apparently perfect red heifer, the sacrifice crucial to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Second Coming of Jesus. This audio's power is in its richly evoked characters, and Susan Ericksen's expressive, sympathetic voice partners perfectly with Paretsky's text. She distinctively voices men, women and teenagers with careful shifts in pitch, inflection and accent. In the end, listeners will be both satisfied by the realistic, uplifting ending and bereft at having to say good-bye to Paretsky's painfully real Kansans. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 15). (Jan.)

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Library Journal

Paretsky, best known for her acclaimed V.I. Warshawski mystery series (Blacklist), turns to her roots in rural Kansas for this stand-alone novel of bigotry, lawlessness, and rampant biblical fundamentalism. It is the 1970s, and the Schapen and Grellier families have been farming adjacent land since the Civil War. Familiarity has bred contempt, and though both families profess Christianity, they practice it very differently, which sets them at odds. When one of the Schapens' cows gives birth to what may be a "perfect red heifer" and a local Orthodox Jewish sect shows great interest in it for potential sacrifice, a media frenzy ensues, stirring religious and monetary fervor. Then, a young Wiccan moves into a local empty farmhouse and starts conducting pagan rights, and the tiny community begins an active harassment campaign. All this is background for the star-crossed love between teenagers Lara Grellier and Robbie Schapen. Paretsky has written a powerful tale with overtones of the Wild West that illustrates the ease with which communities become zealous, ignited by fear and ignorance. Different in style from her crime fiction, this will nonetheless prove popular among her readers. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ9/1/07.]
—Susan Clifford Braun

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
990 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Sara Paretsky is the author of sixteen books, including her renowned V. I. Warshawski novels. Her many awards include the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers' Association. She lives in Chicago.

Brief Biography

Chicago, Illinois
Date of Birth:
June 8, 1947
Place of Birth:
Ames, Iowa
B.A., Political Science, University of Kansas; Ph.D. and M.B.A., University of Chicago

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Bleeding Kansas 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
NEKansasReader More than 1 year ago
I come from an area approximately an hour north of where this book takes place. I felt so at home reading this, that I often look for other books similar. I think it was absolutely amazing how Ms. Paretsky was able to cover such a broad spectrum of topics in a 300 page book without losing the reader. Instead of focusing on one character or another, I really felt like I got to know the majority of the characters in the book. Watching Jim develop as well as others and relationships was very intriguing. It definitely made the book hard to put down. If you enjoy country life and have any farm experience whatsoever (or not!) you will definitely love this book. It also gives such a profound look into the differences from one protestant church to another. However, as a Catholic, I have to say the book is not very nice to us! ;) I hope you all enjoy this as much as I have. I'd like to read more from this author. However, I hear her other novels are nothing like this book was.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tedious misrepresentation of Kansas life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He groomed his pelt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sat sadly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
catwak More than 1 year ago
At its best, *Bleeding Kansas* tells a nuanced story about what it means to depart from the norm in a small rural community where neighbors know no privacy and making a living is difficult. It also provides a heartbreaking account of one family's response to death. At its worst, the story becomes sort of a cross between "Romeo and Juliet" and "CinderFella." Sara Paretsky's best writing here is in the same class as America's greats. However, I don't think her villains measure up to the rest of the narrative -- not because they're morally inferior but because their lack of depth and complexity renders them too bad to be quite believable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
book-worm62 More than 1 year ago
This book was so disappointing. About neighbors in a Kansas town who farm the land and spend their time interfering in each other's lives. Every character is a cliche, saintly farmer husband, bad mean bully, hypocritical religious zelot, lesbian feminists, innocent teenage lovers, etc, etc. Every point the author wants to make hits you in the head over and over like a sledge hammer, going nowhere. I kept with the book, hoping something was going to happen, but not much ever does. The writing seemed very amiture and poorly developed. The characters were one dimentional and just whiney and boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Ms Paretsky. I enjoyed her style and her historical perspective. I learned something about history and enjoyed the fictional plot. I found the character development to be very good and the plot and perspective of the book to be very original. Who would have thought to address conservative religious views, Wickens, homophobia, the Iraq war, teenage love, infidelity, mental health and many other things in the same novel. I found it quite compelling. I would recommend the book for book clubs as there is ample material for an interesting discussion. But anyone would enjoy the characters and plot. A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was fascinating....I grew up in the rural Midwest and there was a great deal of intolerance in those days. There still is in some areas. This book is about a woman who practices witchcraft, who stirs things up in a small town. It's about a woman who has a breakdown when her son dies, a local bully who gets away with everything, an unlikely teenage romance and a girl that goes to extremes in snooping. But mostly this book sheds a great deal of light on the hypocrisy, intimidation, crazy ideas, and bad behavior of many people in fundamental religious sects. The social issues make this a very interesting book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I felt that this was a book that brougt history alive for the time period that was being depicted. I would like to see a follow up book that would give more insight on the pre and post relationship between grandma Shapen and the other characters in the book. Grandma Shapen and Jr got off too easy and there needs to be some more future character develpment that would give the readers more closure at to what happen to the families maybe ten years down the line. I hope Grandma Shapen's cream spoils and Jr gets to know what happens to boys like him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are two reasons I read this book - one: it was written by Sara Paretsky, two: I was born and raised in Kansas and lived in Larence during the 'Bleeding Kansas' era. I remember the unrest on campus that year - I was a senior at Lawrence High School - where at least one person died during the incident and they ended the term early at the University of Kansas just to get people out of town. Sara Paretsky is an extraordinary writer and I throughly enjoyed this story, but I sure hope she has a few more VI Warshawski books up her sleeve.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The characters were unlikeable, the hero and heroine were disappointing in that the reader (me) just didnt care what happenened to them or anyone in the book. They were not likeable in any respect and the book just went on and on about their nonsensicle lives. They were all cowards or insane. No redeeming quality in either them or the plot. Too bad to have spent money on this. She should have stayed with Warshawsky, they were very good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Because I am a huge Paretsky fan I will rate the book disappointing rather than poor, but it is a tough call. The dialogue between the family members was stiff, unnatural and inauthentic. I skipped about a third of the book just to see how it all ended. Dare I say it was boring? Sorry, Sara , you were out of your element on this one. I grew up in a conservative rural area and this story just doesn't ring true.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a disappointment. The historical aspect attracted me, but her characters were unbelievable. Stilted dialog and long-drawn out scenes made this a dull read. I stuck it out past the first hundred pages (hoping it would improve), but barely made it to the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a free country - an author can write about whatever she chooses. But Paretsky's fan base has been waiting patiently for another in the VI series. Instead, we get a story about farmers in Kansas. Good luck with the new direction, Ms. Paretsky, but as for me - no thanks.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Nears the town of Lawrence in the Kaw River Valley in Kansas, two families the Grelliers and the Schapens have farmed the land for over one hundred and fifty years. Both families barely tolerate each other because the Schapens who belong to a fundamentalist church believes the Grelliers are godless heathens. Into this atmosphere comes Gina Haring, a Wiccan and a lesbian, who is the catalyst for a series of events that ends in tragedy and death.------------- Susan Grellier is attracted to the Wiccan holidays and attends the bonfire which gets the Schapens up in arms. Junior Schapen makes life miserable for Chip Grellier. Life gets worse for Chip when his mother becomes an anti-war activist and the town looks upon her as a hippie. Tired of the constant fighting, Chip enlists in the army and sent to Iraq where he dies less than a month after he arrives. Susan has a breakdown and doesn¿t relate to anyone causing the family to fall apart. The Schapens have a baby red heifer that the ultra conservative Jews want to buy in three years if she is perfect as both Jews and Christians believe such an animal is needed for the temple to be built and for Christ to come again. Tired of the loathing the Schapens stir up, some people set in motion a deadly series of events that culminates on Halloween.---------- BLEEDING KANSAS is nothing like the author¿s V.I. Warshawski crime capers. This is more like a novel written by Barbara Delinsky about families and the internal and external strife each individual deals with. There is a lot of depth to this novel and though it can be read for entertainment, it deals with lots of social issues such as religious intolerance, same sex relationships and people who don¿t conform to mainstream thinking. The heartland of America is shown as a microcosm of society in general and deals with timely issues that divide us.--------------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont think snowkit was on in the first please
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She chewed slowly on a large rabbit bone, holding it between her paws like a wolf.