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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mrs. Adams In Winter Book Review


 Mrs. Adams In Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon Book Review

About the Book: Early in 1815, Louisa Catherine Adams and her young son left St. Petersburg in a heavy Russian carriage and set out on a difficult journey to meet her husband, John Quincy Adams, in Paris. She traveled through the snows of eastern Europe, down the Baltic coast to Prussia, across the battlefields of Germany, and into a France then experiencing the tumultuous events of Napoleon’s return from Elba. Along the way, she learned what the long years of Napoleon’s wars had done to Europe, what her old friends in the royal court in Berlin had experienced during the French occupation, how it felt to have her life threatened by reckless soldiers, and how to manage fear.

The journey was a metaphor for a life spent crossing borders: born in London in 1775, she had grown up partly in France, and in 1797 had married into the most famous of American political dynasties and become the daughter-in-law of John and Abigail Adams.

The prizewinning historian Michael O’Brien reconstructs for the first time Louisa Adams’s extraordinary passage. An evocative history of the experience of travel in the days of carriages and kings, Mrs. Adams in Winter offers a moving portrait of a lady, her difficult marriage, and her conflicted sense of what it meant to be a woman caught between worlds.

Our Take: There are many characters in history of whom we're not aware.  There are people nearest to those that we're so familiar with that have gone unsung.  We really feel like thats a huge mistake on behalf of historians, so when we find a book like Mrs. Adams in Winter, we can't sing enough praises.

This book focuses on the wife of the great John Quincy Adams... Louisa Catherine Adams.  John Quincy Adams was, of course, our now infamous sixth president of the United States.  He was an amazing diplomat and even helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine!  Louisa often gets lost in history, as she didn't really have any amazing story or interesting contribution.  That is until now.

This book gives the fascinating tale of Mrs. Adams as she travels to see her husband from Saint Petersburg to Paris, along with her young son.  Her path is filled with danger and intrigue, not the least of which is that at that same time Napoleon is escaped from his forced exile.  This is the first time that you can hear this tale, which is no doubt going to become legendary.  The book is written in a wonderful style.  Its hardcover with an attractive cover and even includes some images within, which is wonderful in my book, as I'm a very visual person.

We highly recommend this for any history buff.  Its rare that we get a new tale from someone known in history.  This unique new book is a home run.

How to Buy: Amazon.com or the Farrar, Straus and Giroux Site