The Traveling Book Group is meeting to discuss The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley on Thursday, May 5 at 7:00.
From Booklist: /*Starred Review*/ Each of Smiley’s three most recent novels is a radical departure from the last. She dramatized midwestern farm life in A Thousand Acres (1991), satirized academia in Moo (1995), and now brings her acumen and magic to historical fiction, transporting her expectant readers back in time to the frenetic years leading up to the Civil War. The story begins in Quincy, Illinois, where 20-year-old Lidie has to decide what to do with her life. Tall, plain, athletic, she has zero tolerance for the severe limitations imposed on her sex and is extremely skeptical of marriage, but when Thomas Newton, a self-possessed New England abolitionist, comes to town on his way out to the Kansas Territory, she responds without hesitation to his suit. Thrilled to be off on an adventure, she doesn’t stop to wonder why her husband values her fearlessness and skill with horse and gun over her feminine wiles, but she finds out soon enough. Kansas is a rough and violent place, and abolitionists are a despised and endangered breed. Their life is one of deprivation and danger, but Lidie, an entrancing narrator, finds marriage every bit as challenging as poverty, winter, and war. Tragically, she doesn’t get a chance to learn what love really is because Thomas is murdered within the year. A bit mad with grief and determined to exact revenge, Lidie disguises herself as a man, but she soon realizes that few things are as simple as fanatics make them out to be. Gloriously detailed and brilliantly told, this is a hugely entertaining, illuminating, and sagacious vision of a time of profound moral and political conflict, and of one woman’s coming to terms with the perilous, maddening, and precious world. ((Reviewed February 15, 1998)) — Donna Seaman.
Copies of the book are available at the library, and all are welcome to join the discussion. This book group meets on the first Thursday of every month at 7:00.