American Princess (2019)

by Stephanie Marie Thornton

“Princess Alice,” “the other Washington Monument” — Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884–1980) was an celebrity throughout her long life, from her father’s ascent to the presidency when she was a teenager until her death at 96. In this meticulously researched historical novel, Stephanie Marie Thornton balances attention on Alice’s outsize personality with major events of the 20th century in which Alice figured.

Alice’s life was scarred by tragedies that began when she lost her mother at two days old. Bereft, Theodore Roosevelt handed his infant daughter over to his sister. Not until four years later, when Roosevelt remarried, did Alice come back. She grew up yearning for more attention from her revered father and frustrating her stepmother with her outspokenness and unconventionality, which the press fed on.

Alice’s celebrity continued after she married the charming future speaker of the House of Representatives, Nick Longworth, an alcoholic philander with whom she eventually reached an understanding. Childless in her marriage, she devoted her energies to her father’s career. After Longworth’s death Alice remained active in Republicans politics in Washington. Her only child, Paulina, conceived when she was 40, was probably fathered by Sen. Bill Borah of Idaho. Paulina died of a drug overdose at 33, leaving a daughter whom Alice raised.

A brisk read, American Princess is a sure bet for anyone interested in US history. An interesting sidelight is Alice’s scorn for her first cousin Eleanor and distant cousin Franklin.


Home               My reviews               My friends' reviews