Clover Adams by Natalie Dykstra
A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life

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For biographers...silence is seductive. Absent sources stir speculation. And the latest biography of Clover Adams...takes the idea of loss as the theme of her story.
-NY Times

Synopsis

The hidden story of one of the most fascinating women of the Gilded Age

Clover Adams, a fiercely intelligent Boston Brahmin, married at twenty-eight the soon-to-be-eminent American historian Henry Adams. She thrived in her role as an intimate of power brokers in Gilded Age Washington, where she was admired for her wit and taste by such luminaries as Henry James, H. H. Richardson, and General William Tecumseh Sherman. Clover so clearly possessed, as one friend wrote, “all she wanted, all this world could give.”

Yet at the center of her story is a haunting mystery. Why did Clover, having begun in the spring of 1883 to capture her world vividly through photography, end her life less than three years later by drinking a chemical developer she used in the darkroom? The key to the mystery lies, as Natalie Dykstra’s searching account makes clear, in Clover’s photographs themselves.

The aftermath of Clover’s death is equally compelling. Dykstra probes Clover’s enduring reputation as a woman betrayed. And, most movingly, she untangles the complex, poignant — and universal — truths of her shining and impossible marriage.

 

About Natalie Dykstra

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Natalie Dykstra has received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for her work on Clover Adams. She is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and associate professor of English at Hope College in Holland, MI.
 
Published February 8, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Brenda Wineapple on Mar 02 2012

For biographers...silence is seductive. Absent sources stir speculation. And the latest biography of Clover Adams...takes the idea of loss as the theme of her story.

Read Full Review of Clover Adams: A Gilded and He... | See more reviews from NY Times

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