The book under discussion last night was Mrs. Adams in Winter: a journey in the last days of Napoleon by Michel O’Brien. During the last years of the Napoleonic Wars, John Quincy Adams, future president and son of John Adams, was named the ambassador to Russia after having served in the same position in Prussia. He and his wife, Louisa, lived for several years in St. Petersburg with their youngest son. In 1814, John Quincy was directed by his government to travel to Ghent, Belgium on order to negotiate a treaty with the British to end the War of 1812. His wife and son were to follow and meet him in Paris in early 1815 in an overland journey that was to last some forty days. At that time, it was unheard of for a woman to travel without her husband or a close male relative and the book is the story of that journey. It is in some ways a travelogue, but is also the story of Louisa’s life and her marriage and a history of those chaotic times. Some people loved the book, some didn’t, but the conversation was lively and interesting, covering the role of women and wives in the past and present, the job of postilion, military families, and much more.
Our next book, Lincoln at Gettysburg: the words that remade America by Gary Wills, will be discussed on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm. The book is available at the Circulation Desk in the library.