Sunday, May 04, 2008
Jane Smiley, The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton
Jane Smiley, The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton. This book reminded me of one of those young-adult pioneer stories with a girl in a prairie dress looking over the horizon on the cover. It's a familiar story form - a young woman marries, travels west, stakes a claim, and hardships and adventure ensue. The familiarity is absolutely intentional - there is even a scene where Lidie chops her hair and dresses as a man in order to travel freely. But this story has an adult level of emotional and political development. The historical/political detail about Kansas Territory and the abolitionist movement and conflicts were the most interesting parts of the book. I was actually pretty shocked that this book turned out to be like this - Jane Smiley is one of those odd authors whose books are entirely different from each other. She seems to pick up any form and tell a story comfortably. If it weren't for her style of humor I wouldn't recognize them.