Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July and 2 Revolutionary "Dear John" books...


Happy Fourth of July! The American Revolution took place between 1765 and 1783 during which the Thirteen American Colonies broke from the British Empire and formed an independent nation, the United States of America. In a letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, he writes…

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." 

The resolution for independence was approved on July 2, 1776, but the actual document, The Declaration of Independence, was signed July 4th and has remained the date we, in the USA, celebrate our independence from British rule.

John and Abigail Adams were friends, husband & wife and prolific writers. Their letters to each other have been published in various forms and have let us peek into the life of a husband & wife, political allies and independent thinkers. Want to learn more of these two? Here are a couple great books that you should read…

My Dear Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams... from Publishers Weekly: Hogan and Taylor, editors of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, have given history buffs a treat—the most comprehensive edition of letters between two extremely lively writers, America's second president and his wife. This edition contains 289 letters covering a longer period of time than the two earlier editions of selected letters. Here are trenchant political exchanges, such as Abigail's famous plea to her husband and the Continental Congress to Remember the Ladies, and Adams's less famous, revealing reply: he noted that while it was well known that the Revolution had prompted children, slaves and apprentices to rebel, your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerful than all the rest were grown discontented. Many of the letters are personal, from coquettish courtship epistles to Abigail's moving premonition that the baby she was carrying would be stillborn. The letters shine a light on such aspects of daily life as illness, Sunday sermons and cuisine. Ellis's gushing foreword explains the rarity of such intimate correspondence—Martha Washington, for instance, destroyed most of the letters she and George wrote.

This book has gotten wonderful reviews based on the letters, but also on the way the letters are presented and put together by the editors. 

Abigail Adams by Woody Holton... from Publishers Weekly, While Abigail Adams has always been viewed as one of the most illustrious of America's founding mothers, University of Richmond historian Holton (Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution), drawing on the rich collection of Adams's letters and other manuscripts, paints a strong-minded woman whose boldness developed in the context of the revolutionary era in which she lived. Holton offers a captivating portrait of a reformer both inside and outside the home. Best known for exhorting her husband, John Adams, to remember the ladies in devising America's new political system, she also, Holton has discovered, wrote a will leaving most of her property to her granddaughters, in defiance of the law that made her husband the master of all she owned. Furthermore, she was a businesswoman and invested her own earnings in ways John did not always approve of. Tracing Adams's life from her childhood as the daughter of a poor parson to her long and sometimes uncertain courtship with John, her joys and sorrows as a mother and her life as the wife of a president, Holton's superb biography shows us a three-dimensional Adams as a forward-thinking woman with a mind of her own.

An independent woman in her own rite, this book has gotten great reviews as well. Well written and not dry, put this on your TBR list!

Enjoy the fireworks & sparklers, picnics & potato salad, but don't forget about some great reading about the day we celebrate as Independence Day! 

Happy Fourth of July… and happy reading… Suzanne

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