Kate's Reviews > Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life

Clover Adams by Natalie Dykstra
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's review
Apr 25, 2012

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bookshelves: history, biography, gilded-age
Read from April 08 to 21, 2012

Clover Adams is probably best known today for the August Saint-Gaudens bronze that guards her grave in Washington, DC. I first heard a mention of this while reading The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan, which mentions how the influence of Eastern traditions shaped Saint-Gaudens' work.

Overall, this biography was disappointing. It's well researched, but Dykstra constantly undercuts her own work by mentioning lack of resources on Clover's life. Certainly there will always be gaps in the historical record, but Dykstra doesn't budge from the sticture of her subject, and hardly gives pause to draw conclusions based on given material. The lack of material excuse pops up over and over until I began to wonder why it was worth reading this at all, if the material was so sparse.

The text is also very bland, making it dull to move through, something I find hard to do considering the amazing detail that survives about the period. While Dykstra lacked information about Clover specifically, there is lots to draw upon to talk about the society they moved in, or what a typical experience of the era was.
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