An intimate portrait of a remarkable woman, a complicated marriage, and a pivotal historical moment.


“In this elegant, sweeping biography….Thomas wisely avoids the ‘behind every great man’ canard, acknowledging that while Louisa’s help was essential to John Quincy’s career, of greater importance are the ways in which she learned about herself and the world and developed her own voice.”

—Publishers Weekly

“A detailed and sensitive narrative....Immensely readable.”

—Library Journal

“Drawing on a rich trove of letters, diaries, and memoirs, historian and journalist Thomas has created an enthralling, sharply etched portrait of Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams (1775-1852), the wife of America's sixth president….An elegant, deeply perceptive portrait.”

—Kirkus Reviews, *starred*

“Louisa Thomas has written a beautiful, wise, and compelling book about a member of America's Adams clan who may just be the most interesting Adams of them all. Rigorously researched and written with grace, conviction, and insight, Louisa is a marvelous achievement by a biographer from whom we shall be hearing for decades to come. For that in general and for this book in particular we should all be grateful indeed.”

—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winner and bestselling author of American Lion, Franklin and Winston, and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

“This lyrical and deeply personal tale gives a fascinating glimpse of America at a transformational moment. But more than that, it's a timeless book about what it means to be a woman, how to invent your own personal identity, and how to have the self-awareness and faith to find what to live for and why. These are lessons just as valuable for our fast-changing age as they were for that of Louisa Adams.”

—Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators, Steve Jobs, and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

About the Author

Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas is the author of Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family—a Test of Will and Faith in World War I. She is a former writer and editor for Grantland and a former fellow at the New America Foundation. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, The Paris Review, and other places.