AVAILABLE February 8, 2012
Praise & Reviews
"A startling, original portrait of a woman in a shining cage discovering the terrible strength of its bars."
"a beautifully written and immensely satisfying new biography"
—The Boston Globe
"Tautly conceived and concisely written . . . What Dykstra brings to a fuller understanding of Clover’s plight is a fresh and generous response to her work as a photographer. . . . Perhaps, like Virginia Woolf’s artist Lily Briscoe, Clover Adams had her vision after all."
— Christopher Benfey, The New York Review of Books
“Dykstra’s biography is meticulously researched. She left no stone unturned in her effort to bring Adams back to life. Clover Adams is also immensely readable, written with grace and ease, compassion and enthusiasm…. And Dykstra’s choice of photographs to supplement the biography is excellent, especially the set of those taken by Adams herself.”
—Judith Fetterley, Women's Review of Books
"Dykstra admires Clover's photographs, which she gracefully describes... in them she finds the living Clover [who] was able to transform her feelings of loss and isolation into art."
—New York Times
"Taking a cue from Henry Adams that the best way to tell history is through vivid narrative, Ms. Dykstra does something more. She writes like an artist, and her debut into biography with Clover Adams is a solid and shining achievement."
— Washington Times
"Dykstra’s contextually rich and psychologically discerning portrait of an underappreciated luminary is enlightening and affecting."
“In this substantial biography, Dykstra sheds light on Clover's remarkable life and…manages to re-create a compelling story. With empathy and compassion, she gives voice to a woman nearly written out of existence.”
"This compelling narrative reads as well as any page-turning novel. Highly recommended for anyone interested in women's studies, 19th-century American history, or well-written biographies."
"You might have read his memoir 'The Education of Henry Adams' in high school. But it turns out that his wife has the more compelling story...Sad and fascinating."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Dykstra’s original analysis of the photographs is the central contribution of the biography, offering new insights into Clover Adams’s rich yet tortured life and artistic vision.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
"Dykstra is a good guide to Clover's photography. She presents a great deal of new information and looks at the work from several fresh perspectives. She is instructive on the similarities between the photographs and paintings that Clover undoubtedly knew....Most important, [she] is the first to give Clover's artistry its full due."
—Wall Street Journal
"Clover Adams at last comes vividly into her own... Through meticulous research and a lively writing style, Ms. Dykstra succeeds in presenting a fully rounded picture of her subject, bringing Clover to vibrant life."
—New York Journal of Books
"If you enjoy biographies at all you will enjoy this book, but even if you don’t, you might find yourself surprised at how easy it is to be pulled into Clover’s world."
“Natalie Dykstra writes of Clover Adams’s striking photographs that they ‘defeat distances between people and make time stand still.’ Dykstra’s biography achieves the same remarkable feat, bringing us close to an inspiring if ultimately tragic life, a celebrated marriage gone awry, a vanished world of privilege where the universally costly emotions of love, loss, and envy nevertheless hold sway. ‘I spare you the inside view of my heart,’ Clover Adams once wrote to her beloved father. Natalie Dykstra spares nothing in this eloquent and powerfully sympathetic portrait
of the artist as a lady, a haunting hymn to women’s ways of seeing.”
—Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters
“What happened to Clover Adams broke Henry Adams’s heart. And in Natalie Dykstra’s splendid retelling, it will break yours. This is a moving book, deeply researched, fast‑paced, and profoundly engaging. It is not easy to write a book the family for so long did not want written. Dykstra has succeeded in doing so, and she has returned Clover Adams to us as a living figure.”
—Robert D. Richardson , author of William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism
“At last, Clover Adams has the biography she deserves. Long glimpsed only as the wife of a famous man or the dazzling hostess to Gilded Age luminaries, she emerges here as a complex and fascinating woman — a thinker, writer, and photographer, but also a deeply troubled soul. Natalie Dykstra follows her subject from the academic circles of mid‑nineteenth‑century Boston to the halls of power in Washington, D.C., giving us a broader portrait of late‑nineteenth‑century life. But she never loses her focus on Clover and the dark demons that haunted her throughout her life. This is a compelling read, so beautifully written and persuasively argued it’s hard to put down.”
—Martha A. Sandweiss , author of Passing Strange:
A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line