Smiley, Jane. The All-True Travels and Adventures of Liddie Newton. New York: Knopf, 1998.
Much of Jane Smiley’s growing reputation has derived from her penetrating depictions of contemporary life in the rural Midwest. But she has also written several well-received historical novels, including The All-True Travels and Adventures of Liddie Newton. Set on the American central plains in the decade before the Civil War, the novel approaches the issues that convulsed the nation though the experiences of very ordinary characters.
Although the title character of this novel moves only from central Illinois to Kansas, this movement represents a very profound and almost inconceivable transformation of her existence. An unusually tall and rather plain-looking young woman with very limited material assets and even more limited prospects, Liddie is rescued from her unpromising future by Thomas Newton. A New England abolitionist, he meets her while he is passing through Illinois…
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