The Adams Women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, Their Sisters and Daughters

Paul C. Nagel, Author Oxford University Press, USA $30 (324p) ISBN 978-0-19-503874-3
Having written about the presidential Adamses in Descent from Glory, Nagel now focuses on the women, who, although hampered by societal strictures, often equalled and sometimes surpassed (albeit less publicly) the acumen and talents of even the most illustrious Adams men. In resurrecting them, the historian pays fitting tribute to these women, immersing us in their domestic concerns and marital relationships so totally that we feel a confidant's intimacy and unabashed admiration: for first ladies Abigail, the managing matriarch, and sorely-tried Louisa, wives of John and John Quincy; Abigail's sisters Mary, community do-gooder, and parson's wife Elizabeth; Abigail's benighted daughter Nabby; and the many other fecund Adamses who produced a dynasty. The scenes shift from the family seat in Quincy, Mass., to the nation's capital and other U.S. locales, abroad to England and Russia. The lives of the Adams women, aristocrats of the spirit, were tested by priggish, boorish husbands, offspring and brothers who died of alcoholism and an era that would not acknowledge their quality. Yet first lady Louisa's motto found expression in virtually each: ""Under all circumstances we must never desert ourselves.'' Photos not seen by PW. (September
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-674-00410-8
Hardcover - 978-0-517-03570-2
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-19-505920-5
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