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Extended Audio Sample Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams, by Louisa Thomas Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Louisa Thomas Narrator: Kirsten Potter Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An intimate portrait of Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams, who witnessed firsthand the greatest transformations of her time

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Tell[s] the quite extraordinary story of Louisa Catherine Adams in all its splendor and sadness. Louisa has been worth the wait.”

    Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “A pleasure to read…Manages the difficult balance of exploring [Louisa’s] life as the partner of a prominent public man without letting him hijack the narrative.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[A] lushly detailed, authoritative book.”


  • “Thomas rescues her subject by giving Louisa Catherine her own voice, but also by making this a love story.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Rich and thorough.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “An insightful, compassionate portrait…Readers of biography will find Thomas’ book engaging as well as educating.”

    Historical Novels Review

  • “Thomas’ unusual, enchanting choice of words together with her subject’s strenuous and glamorous life make this book an unlikely page turner.”

    American History

  • “An excellent account of the life of this woman, who certainly merits greater attention and praise.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Kirsten Potter offers an engaging narration, which is vital, given the audiobook’s length. She varies her tone and pacing to fit the content. Listeners will clearly know when the author is being ironic or incredulous…Potter is especially effective in setting off quotations…Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “[An] elegant, sweeping biography.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Finalist for the 2017 Plutarch Award
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