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 the future president John Quincy Adams, whose life had been dedicated to public service from the earliest age. Read more...
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 the 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's full extraordinary life its due. An intimate portrait of a remarkable woman, a complicated marriage, and a pivotal historical moment, Louisa Thomas's biography is a masterful work from an elegant storyteller."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-11
- Reviewer: Staff
In this elegant, sweeping biography, journalist Thomas (Conscience) unfolds the often difficult but always interesting life of Louisa Catherine Adams. Born in London in 1775 to an American father and an English mother, Louisa Johnson was raised to become the wife of a well-to-do American. As if on cue, in 1795 American diplomat John Quincy Adams, son of founding father John Adams, turned up at a dinner party at the Johnson home. John Quincy and Louisa married two years later. Being a diplomat’s wife wasn’t easy or glamorous. Thomas describes the social and political whirl of Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Paris in glittering detail without shying away from the stark realities. The Adamses were short of money, Louisa was frequently ill, and sometimes war threatened their safety. Between diplomatic appointments, John Quincy pursued law and politics in the U.S., moving Louisa and their children with him as he deemed necessary. He became a senator, secretary of state, president, and representative, with Louisa bolstering his career through her considerable social skills. Thomas wisely avoids the “behind every great man” canard, acknowledging that while Louisa’s help was essential to John Quincy’s career, of greater importance are the ways in which she learned about herself and the world and developed her own voice. Illus. (Apr.)