Sideglances
by SARAH GREENE
May 15, 2014 | 518 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ANYONE INTERESTED in the world of books, and without the time and/or money to keep up with current happenings, has a viable alternative: subscribe to the New York Times weekly book review section.

This is an old subject with me, but I was reminded of it again with the arrival of the May 4 Book Review section.

The cover had the beginnings of three biography reviews, topped by a half-page color illustration of the three subjects: James Madison, John Quincy Adams and Louisa Catherine, the Other Mrs. Adams

President Madison looked like a dead ringer for George Washingtpn, based on what we have seen represented as the first president’s hair stye and suit. John Quincy Adams presumably looked as should a sixth president and holder of many other federal offices.

I was especially intrigued by the article on Louisa Catherine. In her day women did not often get written about, unless they had achieved some kind of notoriety. It didn’t hurt that she was the wife of the sixth president and every bit his equal in strength, education and will power.This was one light that was not to be hidden under a bushel.

THE AUTHOR of the review, Virginia DeJohn Anderson paints a vivid picture.

In 1795 when John Q. Adams was America’s minister to Holland, he visited the London household of Joshua Johnson, where Louisa Catherine was a marriageable daughter.

Their courtship began then, and persisted despite some troubles that were evident early on.

Both sets of parents opposed the match, for one thing,and both husband and wife had deep insecurities.

“Any marriage would have been strained by the trials, both private and public, that John Quincy and Louisa endured. Frequent illness and repeated miscarriages sapped her physical and emotional energies. For years, he wavered between the foreign service and domestic politics as he sought an outlet for his considerable ambitions.”

THEY TRIED to mingle with high society, but here hindered by the “paltry salary” provided by our government.

Louisa made up for her deficiencies with charm.

“She easily formed friendships with queens and aristocrats, in contrast with the highly unsociable behavior of her husband, who preferred long solitary walks to the glitter and gossip of european court life.

As for Louisa, only a woman of “uncommon courage” would have made a 2,000-mile expeditiontion from St. Petersburg to Paris.
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