Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams
Author: Margery M. Heffron, Sally-Beth MacLean, David L. Michelmore (editor)
Published by Yale University Press, March, 2014
Book Description from Goodreads
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife and political partner of John Quincy Adams, became one of the most widely known women in America when her husband assumed office as sixth president in 1825. Shrewd, intellectual, and articulate, she was close to the center of American power over many decades, and extensive archives reveal her as an unparalleled observer of the politics, personalities, and issues of her day. Louisa left behind a trove of journals, essays, letters, and other writings, yet no biographer has mined these riches until now. Margery Heffron brings Louisa out of the shadows at last to offer the first full and nuanced portrait of an extraordinary first lady.
As a child my favorite books were the biographies of famous women. So I was excited to get the opportunity to review a biography of one of the First Ladies of America. I thought the book was well researched and nicely written. It did not appear to be dry except that is took too much time detailing John Quincy Adam’s political affairs that didn’t include Louisa. The book includes several illustrations of John Quincy, Louisa Catherine, and their sons, George, John III, and Charles Adams.
Louisa Catherine was an amazing woman. The author frequently quotes from Louisa Catherine’s memoir, “Adventures of a Nobody.” Over the years she survived nine miscarriages, one stillborn birth, and the death of her infant daughter. She traveled 2000 miles by carriage in the winter from Russia to Paris and wrote about it in “Mrs. John Quincy Adams’s Narrative, of a Journey from St. Petersburg to Paris in February, 1815”
I think the authors were sympathetic to Catherine, though, at times I think they got carried away when writing about John Quincy and may have forgot who’s biography this was.
Despite the fact that nearly 10% of the book dealt with describing in detail war and politics, I
enjoyed the book. I would have liked to have read less about the Tsar’s ambitions and Napoleon’s military campaigns to Russia, and more about Louisa Catherine. I would recommend it to history devotees.
I received a copy of this book from Yale University Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.