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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Of Jane Smiley's new book, a work of historical fiction called The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton, Kirkus Reviews writes, "Smiley scales another peak with this big-hearted and thoughtful picaresque novel"; she has created a heroine "whom Huck Finn would have been proud to claim as his big sister."
When Lidie Harkness of Quincy, Illinois, marries Thomas Newton, a New England abolitionist, and moves to Kansas Territory, she has no idea what lies ahead. The year is 1855, and her new home is about to become the battleground for the clash between the abolitionist Free-Staters and the slaveholding Missourians that would come to be known as "Bloody Kansas." It is the eve of civil war, and taking up the abolitionist cause, Lidie will find herself in great danger. Her husband will be murdered, and Lidie, disguised as a man, will venture into Missouri to find his killers — a spy in slave territory, a woman in a brutally male world, and a witness to the conflict from the other side. As Publishers Weekly writes, The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton is a novel that "performs all the functions of superior fiction: in one woman's moving story we understand an historical epoch, the social and political conditions that produced it, and the psychological, moral and economic motivations of the people who incited and endured its violent confrontations."