An intimate portrait of Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams, who witnessed firsthand the greatest transformations of her time.
Born in London to an American father and a British mother on the eve of the Revolutionary War, Louisa Catherine Johnson was raised in circumstances very different from the New England upbringing of future president John Quincy Adams, whose life had been dedicated to public service from the earliest age. And yet John Quincy fell in love with her almost despite himself. Their often tempestuous but deeply close marriage lasted half a century.
They lived in Prussia, Massachusetts, Washington, Russia, and England, at royal courts, on farms, in cities, and in the White House. Louisa saw more of Europe and America than nearly any other woman of her time. But wherever she lived, she was always pressing her nose against the glass, not quite sure whether she was looking in or out. The other members of the Adams family could take their identity for granted - they were Adamses; they were Americans - but she had to invent her own. The story of Louisa Catherine Adams is one of a woman who forged a sense of self. As the country her husband led found its place in the world, she found a voice. That voice resonates still.
In this deeply felt biography, the talented journalist and historian Louisa Thomas finally gives Louisa Catherine Adams' full extraordinary life its due. An intimate portrait of a remarkable woman, a complicated marriage, and a pivotal historical moment, Louisa Thomas' biography is a masterful work from an elegant storyteller.
©2016 Louisa Thomas (P)2016 Penguin Audio
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Many years ago I read a book about Louisa Adams and was impressed with her courage in traveling alone with child and servant from St. Petersburg to Paris. She crossed Russia in winter through war zones on a troika. When I heard an interview with Louisa Thomas about her new book about Louisa Adams I bought it right away.
Louisa was born in England and educated in Catholic schools in both England and France. After marrying John Q. Adams they lived in Europe and she perfected the role of a diplomat’s wife. Louisa was unusual for a woman of that era as she was educated and spoke a number of languages. John Q. Adams spoke nine languages and she was not far behind him. She was fluent in French and English and passable in Latin, Greek, Dutch, Portuguese, German and Russian. She wrote music and played the harp and she became a writer. When she was First Lady her European manners made her exotic. She had four children but had many miscarriages. Louisa was a strong willed, intelligent and independent woman who chafed under the role of women in that era. She wrote “I cannot believe that there is any inferiority in the sexes as far as the mind and intellect are concerned.” I was impressed to learn from the book that Louisa met Napoleon Bonaparte.
The book is well written and researched. The author had access to all her correspondence as well as diaries, poetry, plays, fiction and non- fiction stories and two autobiographies. With access to all this information it is no wonder the author was able to write such an interesting book about Louisa. I wish the author would have included more information about Louisa’s thoughts and role in the antislavery movement and also in women’s rights. It must have been difficult having Abigail as a mother in law but Louisa was so intelligent she held her own in this intellectual family. Kirstein Potter did a good job narrating the book.
Yes it did meet my expectations, and then some. Excellent detail, excellent narration , great story about a woman behind a significant figure in early American history.
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