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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton (abridged audiobook) by Jane Smiley

An interesting look at the 1850s in the Kansas Territory through the eyes of a young woman.

Read by Mare Winningham.
Lasts about 5 hours.

John Brown
I purchased the abridged version of The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton on tape (5 hours) and found it to be quite enjoyable. The listener is treated to a ground level view of the politics of slavery in the 1850s and how violence based on the 'goose question' (code for the slavery issue) swept through households, towns and eventually the entire Kansas Territory.

Smiley's characters are not simple cardboard cutouts - some of the pro-slavery people are quite nice, some of the anti-slavery people are quite insane (she mentions 'Old Brown' and his atrocities and his actions cause some dissent in Liddie Newton's household).

Many readers have complained of the plodding pace. Although my version was abridged, there were still some plodding moments. However, the superb reading by Mare Winningham spared the listener from most of those moments. She is able to express so much emotion and humor with her voice that I found myself forgetting that Mare Winningham is a modern actress. She sounds like she is an older woman telling of her sad, profound trip through a bit of American history.

I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on May 30, 2006.

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