Monday, October 10, 2016


Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams
By Louisa Thomas
Penguin Books, 2016. Biography 500 pgs.

Louisa Catherine Johnson was born in London to an American father and British mother.  She was raised to make a brilliant marriage and ended up falling in love with John Quincy Adams. 
Their lives together were far from tranquil thanks to their frequently conflicting personalities and years spent living abroad serving the newly established United States government.  They were station in Prussia, Russia, England, Massachusetts and Washington and Louisa saw more of the world than perhaps any other woman of her time. 

Louisa Adams led a fascinating life filled with domestic as well as public turmoil.  It is rather amazing to me that more biographies haven’t been written about her. This review of her life is sincere and finely crafted.  Thomas writes with obvious admiration while not glossing over the flaws and struggles of the book’s subject. 

I read this soon after reading the new novel by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie America’s First Daughter and enjoyed comparing Louisa Adams with Martha Jefferson Randolph. Both women were witness to the birth of our nation but from very different perspectives.  This is American history and biography at its best!

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