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Extended Audio Sample Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon, by Michael O'Brien Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (150 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael O'Brien Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 that was 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 she had married into the most famous of American political dynasties to become the daughter-in-law of John and Abigail Adams.

The prizewinning historian Michael O’Brien reconstructs for the first time Louisa Adams’ 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.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carolyn | 2/11/2014

    " I've always been fascinated by the Adams family, and Louisa and John Quincy are no exception. The story of Louisa traveling on her own from Russia to meet her husband in Paris offers not only the opportunity to learn more about this complex woman and her marriage, but also about male-female relations in the early 19th century, and world politics in the Napoleonic era. It was very well written, and I really enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Judy | 1/16/2014

    " Listening on CD. Not so much a story of Mrs. Louisa (John Quincy) Adams as a portrait of the times, the early 19th Century in Russia and Europe. Wanders all over the place, going down rabbit holes (15 minutes on the types of carriage conveyances available to Mrs. Adams) but just the thing for my long commute. Toward the end you get an intimate portrait of the lady, her husband and her marriage. Manages to reflect on women's rights at various times and places in history as well. A veritable smorgasbord. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by MJ | 1/1/2014

    " Picked this up on March 21, 2010 - so glad to see books being written about the lives of First Ladies, and this promises to be a gem. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lisa | 12/21/2013

    " The first half is fascinating. The second half reads more like a text book. And the author just stops writing at the end, not a real ending. All that being said, I enjoyed reading the book. "

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About the Author

Michael O’Brien is a professor of American intellectual history at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810–1860, which won the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History.