The Wilton Historical Society hosts a reading group that focuses on books with a historical bent. The book to be discussed on Friday, Sept. 23 from 12:30–2 p.m. is Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams.

During the discussion, Louisa Thomas, the author, will be joining via Skype. This is a first for the Booked for Lunch group, and will add an interesting dimension to what is always a lively conversation. Participants bring a brown bag lunch, the Historical Society provides a beverage and dessert.

The book is well reviewed:

“Louisa Catherine Adams lived a life that seems made for the telling . . . . It is a pleasure to read.”  — The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice

“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….Thomas effectively sets Louisa’s eventful life against the backdrop of a nation transforming itself, debating foreign and domestic policy, including slavery, which John Quincy vehemently opposed. . . . . An elegant, deeply perceptive portrait.”   — Kirkus Reviews 

Born in London to an American father and a British mother on the eve of the Revolutionary War, Louisa Catherine Johnson was raised in circumstances very different from the New England upbringing of the future president John Quincy Adams, whose life had been dedicated to public service from the earliest age. And yet John Quincy fell in love with her, almost despite himself. Their often tempestuous but deeply close marriage lasted half a century.

They lived in Prussia, Massachusetts, Washington, Russia, and England; they lived at royal courts, on farms, in cities, and in the White House. Louisa saw more of Europe and America than nearly any other woman of her time. But wherever she lived, she was always pressing her nose against the glass, not quite sure whether she was looking in or out. The other members of the Adams family could take their identity for granted-they were Adamses; they were Americans-but she had to invent her own. The story of Louisa Catherine Adams is one of a woman who forged a sense of self. As the country her husband led found its place in the world, she found a voice. That voice resonates still.

In this deeply felt biography, the talented journalist and historian Louisa Thomas finally gives Louisa Catherine Adams’s full extraordinary life its due. An intimate portrait of a remarkable woman, a complicated marriage, and a pivotal historical moment, Louisa Thomas’s biography is a masterful work from an elegant storyteller.

“The thrilling, improbable life of our only foreign-born First Lady, to whom Quincy, Massachusetts seemed more exotic than Tsar Alexander’s St. Petersburg. . . . If, as Louisa Thomas makes splendidly clear, being born an Adams was difficult, marrying one was yet more so.  Louisa Catherine Adams knew how to please her husband (study Cicero), as well as how to displease him (wear rouge); we come to admire her on both counts in this nuanced, beautifully crafted portrait.” — Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Witches, Cleopatra, and A Great Improvisation

Participants bring a brown bag lunch, the Historical Society provides a beverage and dessert. There is no charge, but interested readers are asked to register for this program, either by email or by calling 203.762.7257.

The Wilton Historical Society is located at 224 Danbury Rd./Rt. 7.