“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 circles that literally changed the history of the world.
Lynne Withey’s biography, is an excellent portrayal of this amazing woman. I really got a sense of who Abigail Adams was. She believed strongly in the American Revolution and sacrificed much for her country. There were few women (and men, for that matter) who would have allowed their families to be separated for years at a time for the idea of a republic. Her sacrifices were not only separation: loss of income and the running of their farm were burdens that Abigail Adams shouldered as well.
Having recently read a biography of Martha Washington, the amount of information present in Withey’s book was refreshing. Not the fault of Washington’s biographer, the correspondence that survives between the Adamses is a treasure trove, compared with Mrs. Washington, who burned all the letters between herself and her husband.
I also enjoyed Withey’s writing style and incorporation of Abigail Adams’ own letters into this biography. There may be some that complain about the subject’s misspellings, but that was life in the 18th century, and I feel that modern readers should be exposed to original writings. I had also read that there were some complaints about Withey’s interpretation of Mrs. Adams’ feminism, but it seems to me the author was absolutely correct. It is wrong to dismiss her conservatism as merely a product of the times. There are many modern conservative women who do not see a contradiction with believing that a woman’s role is primarily as wives and mothers, and still believe in equality and abhor injustice.
I very much enjoyed Dearest Friend and give it high recommendation!
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1981
Amazon Book Preview of “Dearest Friend”