American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton
This book does a dazzling job of weaving together the story of Alice Roosevelt, the first daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Alice was the first born to Theodore Roosevelt and his first wife Alice Hathaway Lee. Not long after the birth, she fell ill and languished before dying from kidney failure. Distraught, Theodore would leave baby Alice with his sister until she was three when she would rejoin her father and his new wife Edith. Alice, the oldest, would adore her five half-siblings and surprisingly outlive all of them. Within the pages of American Princess, you are a part of the clashes with her stepmother, but you also discover just how much Edith kept Alice anchored.
There was no mistaking this American Princess as a spoiled brat. She was a woman full of confidence and ready to make her mark on the world. Thornton knits together her tumultuous youthful marriage to Nicholas Longworth, a Congressman from Ohio who would later become 38th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
For all her assertiveness, we discover in the pages of American Princess that deep down Alice was a daddy’s girls. She adores her father, and no man, not even her husband could measure up to her expectations. Baptized in politics Alice would debate with the best of them, battle with her extended family, and behave as she was damn well pleased to the annoyance of many. Thornton smoothly recounts her affair at the age of forty, and her life as a mother.
We join Alice as she sees her own daughter enter adulthood, and display many of her mother’s headstrong traits. As with all relationships, it is not smooth sailing and one filled with many rough waters. Nevertheless, Alice never loses sight of her father’s lessons to always push ahead.
This American Princess, Alice Roosevelt, led a life filled to the brim and this fascinating bit of historical fiction, takes the reader through those escapades. One interesting note by the author is the occupation listed on Alice’s death certificate – “gadfly”. Congratulations to Stephanie Marie Thornton on a magnificent tale. I will read more of her works.