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Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  848 ratings  ·  106 reviews
The lively, authoritative, New York Times bestselling biography of Abigail Adams.

This is the life of Abigail Adams, wife of patriot John Adams, who became the most influential woman in Revolutionary America. Rich with excerpts from her personal letters, Dearest Friend captures the public and private sides of this fascinating woman, who was both an advocate of slave emancip
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Paperback, 392 pages
Published July 9th 2002 by Touchstone (first published 1981)
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Laura
Sep 21, 2008 Laura rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Read for Book Club
Although I hate to sound like a literary snob, and would never have the patience and fortitude to write a book (let alone a non-fiction piece requiring years of research), I felt as if Lynne Withey’s writing style was repetitive and juvenile. The repeated rehashing of her points was tiring. I don’t think she could have mentioned more frequently that 1) Abigail Adams lived vicariously through her husband’s political life, 2) our heroine was willing to sacrifice her own happiness out of a sense of ...more
Laura
This book was amazing! I've become convinced that reading a good biography is going to be my preferred way to learn history. And as a wife and mother, I loved getting the female perspective on the events of her day. It also helped my enjoyment of the book that Abigail Adams and I share many of the same values: family, religion, hard work, frugality. I'm also a woman that likes to be "in the know" about the issues of my day. And I'm prone to extreme opinions and a tendency to be in my children's ...more
Cinda
Jun 11, 2012 Cinda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cinda by: Jackie Hall
Shelves: biography
I would have loved to have known Abigail Adams! We share many of the same concerns and opinions. She sacrificed a lot for the sake of her country, and I agree with her opinion that, for the most part, it was unappreciated. I particularly appreciate her values and moral convictions -- both private and public. I learned a lot about the Revolutionary War from this book, and gained more respect for the process that resulted in our nation today.
Mimi
Oct 26, 2010 Mimi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: adult
This was an excellent biographer. There are so many quotes from her letters and correspondence that it really felt like I was reading the opinions of Abigail Adams instead of the biographer's opinion of what Abigail's opinions might have been. It is a long book, so be prepared for that.

It covers her life very thoroughly, and I was fascinated to learn more about Abigail's views on Revolution politics, early immunizations, her family dynamics, foreign politics, the wars, and motherhood. She believ
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Suzanne
“Abigail Adams was a tiny woman, little more than five feet tall, with dark hair, piercing eyes, and a forceful personality that belied her size.”

I don’t understand people who say they don’t like history. History not only provides a reader with events and people that are fascinating, but one can often make a connection with our own lives today. Abigail Adams is a perfect example of this. She was not only a strong and capable woman with her own opinions, as the wife of John Adams, she moved in c
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Angela
No regrets on reading this biography. Content-wise it's a 5-star, but as a well done biography, it only rates "3". I loved learning all about Abigail Adams, and I loved that much of her actual writing was incorporated into the book. You can tell that Withey sorted through mounds of material to distill out a coherent story line, but she really did have difficulty with repetition and (a bit) with continuity. It was doubly frustrating that in the midst of the repetition she would toss in new, inter ...more
Lisa
I've long been a fan of Abigail Adams, ever since I taught 5th grade history and used one of her letters as a primary source document to shed light on the Battle of Bunker(Breeds') Hill. Not surprisingly, my favorite parts of this book were the exerpts from Abigail's original letters. She was a beautiful writer. I see much in her character to admire, not the least of which was her lifelong romance with her husband. This book was loaded with historical context, and commentary on Abigail and her t ...more
Linda
A blurb on the back cover of this book says, “Most powerfully the history of a marriage, an Eleanor and Franklin for the eighteenth century with one important difference: Their marriage worked.” (Pauline Maier, in the NYT Book Review.) Abigail was certainly a woman ahead of her time. She kept the farm in Braintree, Mass, bore six children including two daughters who did not live, and maintained an interest in politics and current events. Her husband John spent years traveling, first to Philadelp ...more
Ashley
Ever since I saw 1776 at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in 2003, I've been fascinated by John and Abigail Adams. This is my first foray into actually learning about them.

Very well written. Author uses lots of direct quotes from letters, which makes the book more personal and intimate. I think this will be a good preview for McCullough's book about John, which I plan to read as soon as the library gets it in.

Abigail was super tough and very opinionated, but she also changed her mind when she und
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Karen
I found this had interesting insight into colonial America and the life of Abigail and John Adams. There were many quotes from her letters which helped show her personality (and John's) and I also enjoyed pondering the ways in which life was different back then: travel, communication, courtship, education, family life, etc. It certainly kept me interested all the way through. I am in the middle of watching the HBO miniseries as well and that probably helped bring everything even more to life (al ...more
Joann
This was a good book in many ways. I especially liked the primary sources used, particularly the letters. I was disappointed that the author wrote a history book from such a skewed perspective. She often implies that Abigails views on womanhood and motherhood and religion would have been different today. The author obviously has modern feminist ideas that she tries to project onto Abigail.

Not a bad book but due to the author's obvious bias I felt I had to take some of the commentary with a grai
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Kelly
LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this book, was sad that it ended, but I guess Abigail couldn't live forever.
Tanya
I've always wanted to learn more about Abigail Adams, but I was afraid this book was going to be dry. The story of Abigail's childhood and her meeting John was quite interesting, but the book did drag a bit in the middle when Abigail and John were separated for so long. When the two reunited and John ascended to the Vice-Presidency and then the Presidency, my interest was piqued once more, and I was eager to read on until the end. The book was exhaustively researched and contained a treasure tro ...more
Trisha Hale
This was an interesting, but sleepy, read. I did not like the fact that the chronological order of this story did not include years within the dating process. Instead, it follows a monthly date system (i.e. June 17th). This made the timeline somewhat difficult to follow.

Otherwise, this book was very good at detailing early American life, for women especially.

As portrayed in this book, Abigail Adams had very modern beliefs for her time. She denounced freedom of the press. She tried to control th
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Jennifer
Owning this book was sort of an accident. I had put a book called My Dearest Friend on my wishlist -- it was supposed to be largely just the collected letters between Abigail and John Adams. Andrew had made a list of the books on my wishlist and headed to a local bookstore and picked this up instead, thinking he'd gotten the book on my list. Oh, well. It was still very sweet!

This is more a straight-up biography, of course largely based on those letters, among other things, and sometimes containi
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Shenek
I admire Abigail Adams and think she was an amazing person. I love how important people and relationships were in her life. Extremely outspoken, opinionated people intrigue me but also leave me feeling overwhelmed so I wonder if I would have been friends with her...

I think Abigail Adams deserves a better biographer though. The author was constantly talking about how Adams contradicts herself by believing that women are strong and play an important part in society while still being wives and moth
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Crystal Lynn
Although I found this book to be a great biography, and well worth my time, I can see how some might find it to be a "sleepy" and slow read. Lynne did her research and it shows in her writing. It would be hard to bring much more energy to a story about a women who spent most of her time caring for others and living through her husband. While I admire Abigail a great deal, and do feel that she was way ahead of her time, her day to day life was a little dull. If Lynne had added more oomph to the s ...more
Barbara
I am pretty sure this is the book I read some years back although I don't remember the author's name. The covers of the various editions seemed like it was right. Plus, other reviews reference how it was based on a lot of her letters(which she ironically wanted destroyed). I have had a place in my heart for Abigail Adams since my 10th grade American History teacher Sister Anthony spoke so fondly of her brilliance. It was one of the best gifts from my sister ever. Reading about her long absences ...more
Ann
Abigail Adams lived through a revolution, bore six children, buried four of them, and was both wife and mother to U.S. Presidents. This biography is based heavily on letters written by Abigail Adams to her husband, children, and friends and it very effectively captures the voice and personality of this vibrant and influential woman. She was strong, opinionated, and contradictory. She believed in education for women, but felt that their rightful place was in the home. She opposed slavery, but did ...more
M
We recently watched the John Adams miniseries. Having read this book before, I pulled it from the shelf to check a number of points from the series. The author makes heavy use of the correspondence between John and Abigail. Reading their fears and hopes during the time leading up to, then through the Revolution provides a deeper insight into this time in our history. So many of the things we take for granted; freedom of speech, the ability to vote, the peaceful turnover of elected officials, had ...more
Kellie Cornelison
This book was good, if you enjoy history. Abigail Adams is pretty amazing. She basically ran the farm, finances, education of her children, investments, and all the other duties as her husband was in his varies roles of government, including VP and President. She is a very opinionated woman which was her greatest weakness and strength. She was extremely interested in politics, and was one of the very earliest women's rights activist before it's time. Her relationship with her husband had much st ...more
Kelli
One of my favorite books of all time is the biography of John Adams written by David McCullough. I was excited to read this book about Abigail. I thought it was well written (though I do prefer David McCullough's style) and very honest. While Abigail was an incredible person, it was refreshing to see that she too had her little idiosyncrasies. John and Abigail gave much to help found our nation, and this is a perfect example of the influence of a woman. I loved reading about John's respect and d ...more
Corrine
This book is a bit of a slow mover and has grammatical and spelling errors that can be a bit annoying. With that said, it chronicles the life and story of a truly amazing American woman. John Adams is one of my favorite historical figures and now I understand why; his wife was brilliant! She was self-educated, a feminist (far ahead of her time) and abolishionist. She was friends with James MAdison and Thomas Jefferson, the influence of this woman can only be imagined. If you like history and fa ...more
Amethyst
I'm still reading this but it's fascinating. The book is written so that I'm entertained and don't feel like I'm reading a biography or a history book. I like reading history this way ... with a particular person's life contextualized within it. Abigail and John's relationship was fascinating and I like reading about all the contradictions in Abigail's character. I haven't gotten to the part yet when John is President and she encourages him to make some decisions that I think are pretty poor one ...more
Gwen
If you're interested in New England late Colonial, Revolutionary and early American female life, Abigail Adams' life is probably one of the best to study as her source material is amoung the most vast of any person of that time period. Ms. Whitney's biography on Mrs. Adams very readable and covers her entire life. If you would like a good overview of what it was like for Mrs. Adams to grow up and marry and raise children in Massachusetts only to be yanked up to moved to forigen lands later in li ...more
Sandra
This was a great book about Abigail Adams. She faced the same problems we do today. They were concerned about the education of their children, politics, and the good of the nation. She was ahead of her time. She was a proper bostonian, and changed her views of life due to traveling and spending time with those who did not think like her. So her views were broadened. She was human, and we are lucky to have the many correspondences she sent to get a glimpse into this remarkable lady's life, and th ...more
krys
We're on an Adams Family kick at our house so I wanted to find a good, recent biography for Mrs. Adams. She's womanly and feisty, strong and contradictory, a legalist but adores her alcoholic son, a censoring conservative and a bold revolutionary, independent but deeply in love with John Adams her whole life. A dynamic, lively woman.

While the research done for it seems sound, I can't help but notice frequent typos...in a published book, is that really supposed to happen? Spellcheck anyone? Annoy
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Jackie
Mar 27, 2011 Jackie added it
Recommended to Jackie by: Jean G.
At times I liked the writing style and at other times I did not like the author's way with words. Repetition of certain themes played more often than I preferred, however I also know that we do that in our own lives at times for different things can be prevalent for long periods of time. This was a narration of Abigail Adam's life in which I learned more about this time in history through her perceptions as well as her personal life. It seems the author did quite extensive research for this book ...more
MJ
Nov 23, 2008 MJ rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: library
Solid biography, a bit dry. Written in 1981 and it didn't age all that well - clearly written in the thick of/just after the main feminist movement of the 20th century, and there are little factual notes that need changing (Abigail is no longer the only woman to be both mother and wife to presidents - Barbara Bush matched that in 2000).

Recommend this for people interested in straight biography, but I think you'd be better off with McCullough's book about John Adams than this one about Abigail.
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women's perspective 1 3 Jan 23, 2008 05:20AM  
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