cover image American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt

American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt

Stephanie Marie Thornton. Berkley, $16 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-451-49090-2

The wild, wonderful, outsize personality of presidential daughter Alice Roosevelt is on full and fantastic display in this lightly fictionalized take on her unapologetic, unconventional life from the author of Daughter of the Gods. After President William McKinley was assassinated, Theodore Roosevelt moves into the White House—and his headstrong daughter Alice becomes one of Washington’s favorite denizens and a fixture in newspaper columns. Whether carting around a pet snake named Emily Spinach, jumping into a swimming pool completely clothed while on a diplomatic mission, or cavorting with Chinese empress Cixi, Alice revels in being a rebel with a singular verve for life, even if others disapprove. But Alice also suffers heartbreak, including because of her cheating husband, Republican congressman Nick Longworth. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Alice’s life is the death of her only child, Paulina, widely believed to be the daughter of Senator William Borah, with whom Alice was said to have had a long and ongoing affair. Thornton’s impeccable research and command of her subject fills this tale with authenticity, and her unerring instinct for knowing what to fictionalize and what to keep factual is finely balanced, making what could be dull in lesser hands consistently entertaining. Alice herself would undoubtedly have loved this take on her unorthodox life—as will the many destined to read it. (Mar.)