Louisa Thomas

discusses

Louisa:
The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams

This event includes a book signing

Date

Apr
14
Thursday
April 14, 2016
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes former writer and editor of Grantland LOUISA THOMAS for a discussion of her latest book, Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams, an intimate portrait of Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams, who witnessed firsthand the greatest transformations of her time.

About  Louisa

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.

Praise

“The thrilling, improbable life of our only foreign-born First Lady, to whom Quincy, Massachusetts seemed more exotic than Tsar Alexander’s St. Petersburg.  If, as Louisa Thomas makes splendidly clear, being born an Adams was difficult, marrying one was yet more so.  Louisa Catherine Adams knew how to please her husband (study Cicero), as well as how to displease him (wear rouge); we come to admire her on both counts in this nuanced, beautifully crafted portrait.”—Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The WitchesCleopatra, and A Great Improvisation  

“Louisa Thomas has written a beautiful, wise, and compelling book about a member of America's Adams clan who may just be the most interesting Adams of them all. Rigorously researched and written with grace, conviction, and insight, Louisa is a marvelous achievement by a biographer from whom we shall be hearing for decades to come. For that in general and for this book in particular we should all be grateful indeed.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winner and bestselling author of American LionFranklin and Winston, and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

“You will want to read every word of Louisa--Louisa Thomas’s dazzling portrait of first-lady Louisa Catherine Adams and her complicated marriage to America’s sixth president, John Quincy, a man who believed ‘women had nothing to do with politics,’ yet permitted his wife to  wage a ‘campaigne’ in private salons and ballrooms that led to his election.  Chances are good that no first lady was unhappier in the White House than Louisa Catherine Adams, but hers was a long life of surprising adversity and high adventure, every chapter of which Thomas relates with brilliant sympathy and insight.”—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

Louisa Thomas
Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas is the author of Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family—a Test of Will and Faith in World War I. She is a contributor to the New Yorker's website, a former writer and editor for Grantland, and a former fellow at the New America Foundation. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, The Paris Review, and other places.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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