Trade Ed. Random House Audio 1998
DD ISBN 9780375417085 $24.95
In the decade before the Civil War, Americans staged what was essentially a full dress rehearsal in the West. Neighbors were divided from one another by the single overriding issue of slavery, which rendered Kansas and Missouri a volatile mix of zealotry, violence and hatred. Smiley’s latest novel is a formidable feat of imagination that brings vivid complexity and passion to those turbulent times and regions. Fields’s narration is no less an accomplishment. Characters come powerfully to life in her reading. She makes them feel like they come from somewhere, that they each have histories and backgrounds and were not created out of thin air. This is especially true for Smiley’s heroine, Lidie Newton, who accompanies her new husband, an abolitionist, to the West, where she will lose everything and be tested well beyond her experience. Fields’s Lidie is a clever, spirited woman who makes any number of mistakes, some tragic. But the most moving impression left by Fields’s reading is the earnestness of Lidie’s self-inquiry and her yearning to discern the right path in ambiguous surroundings. M.O. Winner of AUDIOFILE Earphones Award ©AudioFile, Portland, Maine [Published: OCT/NOV 98]
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