American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt by Stephanie Marie Thornton
As a history major, I always knew that is was said Alice Roosevelt was a wild child. I did not know until reading this novel that was an understatement and that Alice also had a keen mind for politics. In fact, some of her stunts were to promote political ideas, like women’s rights!
The novel opens just as Alice’s father, Theodore, finds out about President McKinley‘s imminent death and his own rise to the presidency. From that point, it follows Alice throughout her white House years. Alice made it a point to stand out from the crowd and not bee meek. She cruised around town in a car, chewed gun in public, and played poker. Her name was almost always in the newspaper, causing her to be dubbed the “american princess.” Then Alice used the position she created in society to her advantage by involving herself in politics, including her father’s subsequent runs for the presidency and her role in the White Fleet expedition to the Orient.
However, not all is sunshine and roses for this famous first daughter. Readers also follow her through learning who her true friends were, the breakup of her marriage to politician Nick Longsworth, deaths of those closest to her, and the famous feud with her cousins Eleanor and Franklin. And she lives to the ripe old age of 96, meaning readers will also see how the political landscape of America, especially in her beloved Washington, D.C., changed through Alice’s eyes.
Told in the first person, readers are placed right into Alice’s shoes. This means they are along for the fun, the fights, and the political maneuvering throughout Alice’s life. At times this means elation, at others utter defeat. Thornton, who is a history professor, is new ot wiring fiction, but she did not let her knowledge of historical events bog down the writing as some do. Instead, Thornton added just the right amount of details. Her writing also made other characters come alive, especially Alice’s “men:” her father, her husband, and her lover. I was not expecting to enjoy this novel as much as I did, but I knew within the first hour or so of reading I found a great pick.
Have you read about Alice Roosevelt before? If so, do you have any recommendations to learn more?
This review is based on a copy of the novel from my library. As I listened to the audio version I can also add the narrator was great!