Jason Koivu's Reviews > Abigail Adams: A Life

Abigail Adams by Woody Holton
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really liked it
bookshelves: biography, history

I've been looking for a good bios on the nation's founding mothers and I found one!

Having read bios on the male versions of the Washingtons, Adams, Jeffersons, Hamiltons, etc...etc...etc...I wanted to see the revolutionary period through the eyes of the women of the day. Abigail Adams is an important figure of the time and the fact that I didn't know her hardly at all rankled with me. Having read Woody Holton's Abigail Adams: A Life I feel like I know more than I could ever need to know.

I've read and seen numerous books and films on her famous husband John. Each mentioned and portrayed Abigail as a stalwart companion and alluded to her importance to him, but they never went into great detail as to why. They made it clear that the two were a good match, but didn't explain her role in the partnership. Holton has it covered!

As a biographer Holton is often generous and kind to Adams. You can tell she has an ally here in this author. Positive and affirming language was employed in places where negative terms could just as well been used. Example: never once did Holton label Adams a war profiteer, and yet that's just how she kept her family's fortune from ruin and even enriched it. The woman did what she had to and what her husband would not, though he benefited greatly from her efforts and seemed to generally turn a blind eye to anything he might see as being morally beneath him (that being said, there was a whole lotta stuff John thought was morally beneath him!).

What I enjoyed most about this was the look into the domestic side of life during the American Revolution. It's a period I've studied a good deal and usually that study ends up focusing on the war side of things. It's more exciting and there's more readily found information on the fighting aspect, as well as the government-forming period later. How the household was kept together seldom gets much play and so I appreciated that.

It was also great to know one of the country's forerunners in female equality. Like the sign-wielding parade marchers, Adams may have urged her husband when he was forming the new government to "remember the ladies", but more than that, she just went out there and showed how a woman could handle economic affairs, such as starting a business, managing estates and trading on the market. This at a time when women weren't allowed to...well...they just weren't allowed to! The husband controlled the wealth in those days. But Adams got around that and made a success of it. Without her, a lot of a people in her extended family, John included, would have been sunk.

Really solid read! Highly recommended!
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Reading Progress

May 2, 2018 – Started Reading
May 2, 2018 – Shelved
May 11, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Monique (new)

Monique She really was an amazing woman, strike that, an amazing person.


Jason Koivu Monique wrote: "She really was an amazing woman, strike that, an amazing person."

Agreed.


message 3: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs Did you ever see the movie or musical, 1776? If not, I highly recommend it. Abigail and John's relationship is wonderfully told through their letters to one another.

Also, have you read Cokie Roberts' book, Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation, about first ladies? I haven't but have intended to for a long time.

I have read some of the collected letters of John and Abigail and what a treasure they are. Thanks for the heads up on this book. It goes on my list.


Jason Koivu Patricia wrote: "Did you ever see the movie or musical, 1776? If not, I highly recommend it. Abigail and John's relationship is wonderfully told through their letters to one another.

Also, have you read Cokie Robe..."


Haven't seen 1776 yet, nor the Roberts book. I did read her Founding Mothers (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8...) and didn't like it for her constant reiteration to the effect of, "See! Women are just as important!" To which I replied, "Stop saying it and show it! The truth is self evident and your harping isn't necessary, in fact it belittles their accomplishments!" I shout at inanimate objects all too often. It's a symptom of early on-set Oldmanitis.


message 5: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs Ah, you know what? Founding Mothers is the book I was thinking of. And yeah, that would be a big flaw. It will slide lower on my list, which was already no more than an awareness.

Yelling at inanimate objects is better than kicking them, and no I have never broken a toe in a fit of pique.

Watch 1776. Seriously. July 4th is the perfect time.


Jason Koivu Patricia wrote: "Watch 1776. Seriously. July 4th is the perfect time..."

Good suggestion!

The Ladies of Liberty Roberts book you originally mentioned actually gets higher marks than Founding Mothers, so it might be worth checking out.


message 7: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Burroughs Thanks for letting me know. I like Cokie a lot and would like to read one of her books.

My perfect July 4th has no sun, sweat, mosquitos, etc. Instead it is in air conditioning watching 1776, The Music Man, and Independence Day and eating really good July 4th food.


message 8: by Henry (new)

Henry Avila Excellent review Jason, interested in this long ago yet interesting period and the people, their great perseverance .


Jason Koivu Henry wrote: "Excellent review Jason, interested in this long ago yet interesting period and the people, their great perseverance ."

Thanks, Henry!


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