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Abigail and John LP: Portrait of a Marriage
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Abigail and John LP: Portrait of a Marriage

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  708 ratings  ·  73 reviews
The marriage of John and Abigail Adams is one of the most extraordinary examples of passion and endurance that this country has ever witnessed. Theirs was a unique union, one based on mutual respect and ambition, intellect and equality. Using their letters, Abigail & John provides an inspirational portrait of a couple who weathered the trials of a revolution, and in so ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 660 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by HarperLuxe (first published March 1st 2009)
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Deirdre
I read this over quite some time but I really enjoyed it. The subtitle reads, "A Portrait of a Marriage" and Gelles gives the reader a wonderful picture of a marriage to admire, one based on deep and abiding mutual respect and adoration and duty to a common purpose -- raising a good family and serving (even building) the nation. Abigail and John were so devoted and in love with one another throughout their marriage. That they were able to support and nurture each other, their family and the coun ...more
April
I really enjoyed this. I've read biographies of both John & Abigail Adams, but this book shed new light on not only their relationship with each other but also their relationships with their children and what they were going through. There was a lot of new information from letters that they wrote to each other and their friends that I hadn't read before. It puts a different perspective on things. They definitely had an amazing relationship and marriage.

The only thing that I didn't like was
...more
Megowen
I enjoyed reading this. Abigail and John have been of interest to me since 1976 and the PBS series "The Adams Chronicles." This book was what I like to call "easy" history. The facts are there, but not in a heavily academic way. There was, for me, a lot of new information on Abigail's life without John while he was serving in both Philadelphia and Europe. Their separation was long. Her endeavors, and how she maintained the family, were fascinating. Yet, despite all her hard work for the economic ...more
Ron
A good history and biography, replete with primary sources--mostly letters from and to the principles.

Two factors mar the text: first, Gelles practice of explaining that which need no explaining, often the archaic vocabulary. And second, paradoxically, Gelles own archaic vocabulary. For example, we might expect the Adamses to use "palliate" as a verb, but hardly expect to find it in twenty-first century prose.

Cover art: particularly liked the juxtaposing of parts of the two Gilbert portraits.
Kathryn
This book was based on the letters Abigail and John Adams wrote to each other. Most of their married life was spent apart, due to John's political activities, so there were many letters to base the book on. I found it very interesting in depicting life in the US at the beginning of our country, and the sacrifices our founders made to make the union work.
Cindy
Abigail Adams is a new hero of mine. She was a faithful wife, a faithful citizen, and a determined woman. With struggle after struggle, she faced many hardships without her husband, and received little credit.

Honestly, I didn't finish this book on time for my book club, because the end was boring.
Paula
For years, I've heard people talk about the letters exchanged between John and Abigail and their level of intimacy. I finally took time to investigate and read. This book is quite and lengthy experience. We learn of the early days and their family background. We follow them through courtship and marriage. Over the years, we see the personal details of their lives laid before us, in spite of their often referenced desire to have their letters destroyed, neither one did it.

We can see their joys an
...more
☯Emily
Abigail and John Adams are a well-known eighteenth century couple. Many books have been written about each of them. This book looks at the marriage of the couple and how it survived long separations, hardships, problems with their children and their spouses, political treachery and betrayal of close friends and associates. Both Abigail and John were prolific letter writers and their thoughts about their marriage and love for each other, problems with their friends and family, and the politics su ...more
Christine
Absolutely LOVED it. For the quality of research and depth of discussion, this book is very easy to read and quite enjoyable. I'm amazed at the information I learned about this couple and the events they took part in in such a short time span. The author did a fantastic job explaining and connecting events and the Adam's thoughts, feelings, and opinions together in a way that not only paints them as human, but as the amazing, loving, passionate individuals they were. I now know more about the Re ...more
Erin
A compelling and interesting glimpse into the lives of John and Abigail Adams. Edith B. Gelles has written a book that is anything but dry history, offering everyday details of their lives and times, and educated commentary on their communication. They were apart for the better part of 10 years during the early part of their marriage and yet continued to support and love, even adore one another in spite of the difficult circumstances. They wrote so many letters to each other during this time and ...more
Jennifer
Abigail is one of my favorite women from history! I'm reading this to learn more about the real Abigail, as my most vivid knowledge of her is actually the image of her fictinal counterpart in the musical "1776".

This biography of their marriage shows that the bond between John and Abigail was one of love, passion, and mutual support. Gelles is not that graceful a writer; the book is somewhat academic in tone. However, it is very readable and worth the time to get to know how Abigail and John mad
...more
Blaise
I liked this book because I find this time period and the Adamses so fascinating. It was well researched, but I didn't think the book was particularly well written, especially for someone who is so proud of her degrees from Cornell and Yale.

I also wouldn't say that the book was all that focused on the marriage of Abigail and John. I understand that the book needed to include some context of what is going on in John and Abigail's friends' and children's lives, but I found these contextual rambli
...more
Georgiana
Abigail and John had a marvelous relationship in spite of long separations due to their mutual respect. Although this book was written to highlight their marriage, you will find the relevance to today's politics astounding...such as the terrorist threat and the government's reaction (Alien and Sedition Act), the country's financial instability, the differing political factions,the protesters etc. Our country is rather like an adolescent who refuses to learn from wiser parents. The truth is we do ...more
Anna
AMAZING.Abigail and John were so devoted and in love with one another throughout their marriage. That they were able to support and nurture each other, their family and the country in the face of unimaginable challenges as two of the nation's founding parents (very long separations, poor systems of communication, war, ugly politics), and on top of the every day challenges (economic hardships, family challenges, loss, poor health), is absolutely incredible.I enjoyed reading the different perspect ...more
Megan
Abigail Adams has long interested me. She was far ahead of her times in her interest in abolishing slavery and rights for women. The relationship of John and Abigail has also interested me because they seemed to genuinly love eachother and were able to strengthen the other in difficult times. So I was very excited when I saw this book. I love that it is a dual biography so you are able to better understand both of their stories. It is truly inspiring to read everything they sacrificed for their ...more
Al
An excellent portrait of the marriage of Abigail and John Adams that endured for more than fifty years. The author focuses on their relationship which began prior to the Revolutionary War and lasted into the early 19th century and the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. I have read several biographies of John Adams but this book provides additional insights based upon the voluminous correspondence between Abigail and John during their frequent periods of physical separation.
Michele
I really enjoyed this joint biography of the second president, John Adams, and his wife, Abigail. The author used letters written by each of the Adamses and constructed her biography through the letters. It was almost like reading an autobiography. The story flowed easily and was quite interesting. It was not encumbered by too much detail as far as dates, names, etc. Yet, it gave a good synopsis of American history as it occurred in their lifetimes.
Rae
I thoroughly enjoyed this double biography of Abigail and John Adams. I was impressed by their relationship (54 years), their service to the country, their love of family, and their feelings about education.

Sometimes I think we should get back to that seemingly old-fashioned "service to country" as a duty business. It would be an asset for our country's future.

I especially enjoyed reading this book in the month of July.
Rachel
This author focused on the Adamses' marriage, particularly their correspondence. At one point, John had to be in Europe without Abigail for 4 years. It is refreshing to read about a couple so dedicated to each other that nothing can sever their relationship. I learned a LOT about the Adams family that I did not know before.
Erin
I liked using the format of a dual biography to study John & Abigail's lives, as it seemed to bring out insights about their character and motivations, and showed how personal and political often influenced each other. They were fascinating people, and I'm grateful for the sacrifices they made in doing what they felt was right.
Sarah
This book was very interesting and I learned a lot of new things. I truly came to like and admire Abigail and I will admit that I am grateful that I am a woman now and not then. It took me a little while to get into the style of the author but once I got going it wasn't bad. Overall I would say that I enjoyed it.
Carolyn
A well-written narrative interspersed with the couple's letters. I liked that the author followed each letter or exchange with a modern interpretation of the 18th century language. Abigail's experiences put my occasional bouts of bws (bitter wife syndrome) to shame!
Amanda Cain
My least favorite bio of the Adams family. The author came at their family with a warped, staunchly feministic worldview, and pretty much twisted their life and letters into pretzels trying to fit them into her revisionist mold. Would not recommend!
Lisa


It's taking me some time to read this book, but it is very interesting to read a love story play out in such a different and unique time period. It is a view of the revolutionary era that I did not previously have; superbly researched and written.
Benjamin Knoll
There are a slew of biographies out there that focus on John and Abigail Adams. This one focuses on their marriage and relationship throughout the various decades and how their public and private lives affected one another.
Abby Ward
This book was an easy read, especially if you are already familiar with John and Abigail Adams. I did not find it particularly well written, though. The author wrote very simplistically and sometimes had disjointed ideas.
Erin
This was a great read. It was also a huge reminder of how far away we are from the ideals and beliefs our country was founded on. Wonder what John Adams would think of America today....
Jenni
This is a fresh and intriguing approach to a typical biography. By relying on the letters exchanged between John and Abigail Adams during their long marriage, Gelles brings a softer and more humane approach to the resurrection of two historical characters whose unique and evolving bond is both eerily modern and entirely representative of the slice of history the inhabited. It's a fast read, and Gelles' narrative voice remains consistent and coherent throughout her work, lending it an easily comp ...more
Verena
Abigail & John: Portrait of a Marriage by Edith B. Gelles at first seems slow going with densely written prose. Some of the sentence structure could be improved, and there could be less repetition in the summaries and analyses of Abigail and John's letters. However, the author is skillful in revealing the personalities that define the strength of their marital bond. Gelles weaves well-chosen excerpts from their many decades of correspondence into a narrative that includes the history, social ...more
Emilee
A fairly informative read, and definitely interesting. Though, I feel a bit of a bias towards certain historical figures within the novel. Gelles certainly glazed over Jefferson's vicious campaign against Adams during his second run for presidency. More like a little blurb that just barely mentioned it. Hamilton got fairly vilified as a schemer and a liar. While the focus is certainly on Adams, I felt a bit disconcerted by the author's own opinion weaving into that of the Adams'. While they migh ...more
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