Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $16.00
  • Save: $1.91 (12%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 6 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
The All-True Travels and ... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – December 29, 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

See all 22 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$1.79 $0.01

Cometh the Hour: A Novel (The Clifton Chronicles) by Jeffrey Archer
"Cometh the Hour" by Jeffrey Archer
Cometh the Hour is the penultimate book in the Clifton Chronicles and, like the five previous novels - all of which hit the New York Times bestseller list - showcases Jeffrey Archer's extraordinary storytelling with his trademark twists. Learn more | See author page
$14.09 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 6 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
  • +
  • Private Life
  • +
  • Some Luck
Total price: $35.88
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

All too often, this abridged version of the cassette edition of The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton leaves the listener breathless. Jane Smiley's 450-page action-packed story of pioneers in the 1850s has been reduced, here, to four compact tapes, each one galloping across the prairie landscape of abolitionist politics and homesteading hardships with the abandon of the Pony Express. Read by actress Mare Winningham (Georgia, St. Elmo's Fire), the tale belongs entirely to its resilient heroine, Lidie Newton, whose whirlwind adventures begin with her marriage to abolitionist Thomas Newton and their departure for the Kansas Territory. There, the uneasy co-existence between emigrant abolitionists and pro-slavery Missourians is forever erupting, spewing forth disreputable characters and spirited subplots that tax even Lidie's tenacious optimism. Winningham has fun adding vocal nuance to this colorful cast, though Lidie emerges a little more refined on tape than she appears in print. In the interest of economy, the tapes also eliminate context-such as the overheated political backdrop for so many events or the private voices of the Newton marriage. Here is Lidie a few months into her marriage, in a passage omitted from this cassette: "Thus, I sat across from my husband. . .wondering whether he was the closed, dull, stiffly upright, and self-righteous person part of me seemed to see, or the pained, lonely, and worried person another part of me seemed to see." By losing these rare glimpses at an introspective Lidie, the tapes sacrifice the deeper dimensions of the book. Stripped of the more writerly Smiley, they leave, instead, a fast-paced, entertaining story, narrowly saved from melodrama by Lidie's clear-eyed view of matters and Smiley's fluid handling of the narrative. If you're not a purist, this abridged version offers a worthwhile diversion for a day's outing-with or without the kids.(5 Hours; 4 cassettes) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

An immensely appealing heroine, a historical setting conveyed with impressive fidelity and a charming and poignant love story make Smiley's (A Thousand Acres) new novel a sure candidate for bestseller longevity. Lidie Harkness, a spinster at 20, is an anomaly in 1850s Illinois. She has an independent mind, a sharp tongue and a backbone; she prefers to swim, shoot, ride and fish rather than spend a minute over the stove or with a darning needle. That makes her the perfect bride for Bostonian abolitionist Thomas Newton, who courts and marries her in a few days while enroute to Lawrence, K.T. (Kansas Territory), with a box of Sharps rifles. As the newlyweds gingerly come to know each other, they are plunged into the turmoil between pro-slavery Border Ruffians from Missouri and K.T. Free Staters, an increasingly savage conflict that presages the Civil War. Smiley evokes antebellum life with a depth of detail that easily equals Russell Banks's exploration of the same terrain in Cloudsplitter (Forecasts, Dec. 1, 1997). Her scenes of quotidian domesticity on the prairie are as engrossing as her evocation of riverboat travel on the Mississippi. Through an exquisite delineation of physical and social differences, she distinguishes and animates settings as diverse as Lawrence, Kansas City, St. Louis and New Orleans. As Lidie and Thomas experience privation, danger and the growing pleasures of emotional intimacy, and as tragedy strikes and Lidie pursues a perilous revenge, Smiley explores the complex moral issues of the time, paying acute attention to inbred attitudes on both sides of the slavery question. Propelled by Lidie's spirited voice, this narrative is packed with drama, irony, historical incident, moral ambiguities and the perception of human frailty. Much of its suspenseful momentum derives from Smiley's adherence to plausible reality: this is not a novel in which things necessarily turn out right for the heroine, for women in general, for blacks or for the righteous. Lidie's character deepens as she gains insight into the ambiguous and complex forces that propel men and women into love and compassion, hatred and violence. In the end, this novel performs all the functions of superior fiction: in reading 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. 200,000 first printing; Random House audio.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 29, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449910830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449910832
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jane Smiley is one of those authors who seem to have the need to reinvent themselves with each new book. In The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton, she has adopted the stylistic devices of 19th century writing and speech to bring this story of a young woman's experiences in 'Bloody Kansas' to life. So successfully does Smiley present the character of Lidie Newton that it is hard for the reader to believe this person didn't really live - that these aren't the actual words of a real life.
This is a tough book in some ways. What the heroine experiences is not often pleasant. The physiscal and emotional suffering are clear and felt by the reader. I always take it as a sign that an author has been successful when I find myself experiencing anger, disappointment, elation or relief on behalf of a book's charcters, and in Smiley's new book this was a constant. Somehow the story of Lidie Newton seemed personal to me right from the start. I suspect that Jane Smiley modeled the character on herself in some ways, because she lives on the page more vibrantly than any Smiley character I can remember. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. What is important is that one comes to know and care about Lidie Newton; therefore anything that happens to her or that she thinks about becomes important for the reader. One of the strengths of the book is the main character's intellectual and spiritual growth. Things don't just happen to her, she learns from what happens. Still, the ending may not please some, because it doesn't show her as clearly triumphant. But it is true to life, and that is what the whole book is about.
1 Comment 23 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I read a lot of historical fiction, and am by training an historian, so I feel qualified to give this book a solid thumbs-up review. Smiley has chosen an historical period and locale not frequently visited by modern novelists. Her exploration of the antebellum Kansas frontier reveals many little-known events and interesting historical figures. I found it admirable that Smiley allowed the central character, Liddie Newton, to be shaped and changed by the events of her life. Many authors create a rock-like character and bounce events off of them, but Liddie is very realistically painted. Knowing something of history and of the complexities of public opinion in the pre-war period will help readers enjoy this book more, but I think anyone who likes a good story told gently will appreciate Liddie Newton.
Comment 16 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Another great read by Jane Smiley! I first heard about this novel after an Austrian friend's daughter told me how much she liked it - and that she was writing a book report on this novel for her American history class! I read this while down with a bad flu and enjoyed every page. Some of the comments about the book mention the slow pace of the novel. I thought that this was perfectly appropriate for the time - Smiley's talent brings you back and lets you imagine what it would be like for us to live 150 years ago; daily life was so much more physically difficult and repetitive. Still the people in her novels will remind you of people you know while you learn about another time and place from a woman's point of view. Great book!

One comment must be made about the so-called review by "SC" of November 5, 2004. It's fine, SC, if you don't agree with Smiley's opinion piece/political analysis of the red state/blue state divide **PUBLISHED IN SLATE.com, NOT THIS BOOK!** but criticizing THIS book for a political opinion published elsewhere is ridiculous. It is completely inappropriate of SC to leave this sort of negative and completely irrelevant comment about Smiley's OTHER WRITINGS when SC is supposed to be reviewing THIS BOOK!

For example, in my opinion (and in my dad's, as well!) William F. Buckley has contemptible political opinions. Nevertheless, my dad loved his books and would never mix his dislike of Buckley's politics with his criticism or praise of Buckley's fiction.

SC has posted this "thought-police" comment for EACH AND EVERY ONE of Smiley's books. SC's review has no place here - it is clearly contrary to the intent of the rating program.
Comment 18 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I've read this novel twice and listened to it once on tape and found it to be thoroughly enjoyable each reading. The description of the conflict in Kansas Territory between the abolitionists and the Missourians was rivoting and engaging. Smiley provided an immense amount of detailed history--clearly she did her homework. Some readers find this distracting from the story; personally, I find that it added an originality and realism to the narrative. This is not a conversational piece; rather it is the narrative of Lidie's experiences, not her emotions. Lidie is appealing to me as a heroine because she is portrayed so realistically with a mix of passive and aggressive traits. As a reader I sometimes found her inaction frustrating; however, inaction is a part of life. Other readers have complained that the novel is depressing; I object to that analysis. The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton is not an escapist novel and one should not expect it to be. In my opinion, it is a de-Romanticized retelling of Huck Finn with a woman as the lead character. I highly recommend this book as one of my favorite novels and Smiley as one of my favorite authors.
Comment 11 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
This item: The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Price: $14.09
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?