White House Wild Child
How Alice Roosevelt Broke All the Rules and Won the Heart of America
by Shelley Fraser Mickle
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 03 Oct 2023
Perfect for readers of female-centric biographies like The Daughters of Yalta and for fans of the glitzy drama of The Gilded Age and The Crown.
“I can do one of two things, I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.”—Theodore Roosevelt
During Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency—from 1901 to 1909, when Mark Twain called him the most popular man in America—his daughter Alice Roosevelt mesmerized the world with her antics and beauty.
Alice was known for carrying a gun, a copy of the Constitution, and a green snake in her purse. When her father told her she couldn’t smoke under his roof, she climbed to the top of the White House and smoked on the roof. She became the most famous woman in America—and even the world—predating Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy as an object of public obsession.
As her celebrity grew, she continued to buck tradition, push against social norms, and pull political sway behind the curtain of privilege and access. She was known for her acerbic wit and outspoken tendencies which hypnotized both the social and political world.
Brilliantly researched and powerfully told, Shelley Fraser Mickle places the reader in the time and place of Alice and asks what would it have been like to be a strong-willed powerful woman of that day. Drawn from primary and secondary sources, Alice’s life comes into focus in this historical celebration of an extraordinary woman ahead of her time.
"With wit and fresh insight, Shelley Fraser Mickle brings vividly to life one of the most colorful figures of the 20th Century--the most glamorous, rebellious and contentious woman in the United States, and for a time the most famous." –Jonathan Alter, former editor for Newsweek, author of His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life
"What a tale!. . .The history of the Roosevelts has been predominantly about men, now it's Alice's turn."
—Diana Williams, WABC news anchor
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 36 members
A wonderful book. Alice Roosevelt is one of those people from history who I wish I had known. What a firecracker. A great book about a wonderful lady.
I absolutely loved reading this book. I was completely drawn into the topic and could not stop reading it.
A very interesting and complex woman. Definitely affected by her beginning and how she was treated by her father and stepmother, she was clearly one of a kind. You will find yourself laughing at her and with her, getting angry at her and with her, feeling sad and happy for her and with her. The author does an amazing job of bringing Alice's complicated story to life. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
White House Wild Child by Shelley Fraser Mickle is a biography of Alice Roosevelt, the eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt. Alice was very famous in her day, making headlines for her beauty and scandalous behavior. This book is an examination of how her dysfunctional family affected her development into a dysfunctional adult. The main focus is on her childhood and adolescence. She was a complicated person who could not really overcome her tragic childhood. The background of Theodore and his sister Bamie are integral to understanding Alice’s life so a great deal of the book is actually about them, their behavior, motives, and political ambitions. Shelly Fraser Mickle explores the entire Roosevelt family’s psychology and the events, large and small, that affected Alice, in order to understand her personality and wild behavior. She does a wonderful job in describing their life in the Gilded Age, the politics and intrigues that became a part of American history. I was surprised by just how little I knew about this time in American history. A fascinating look at a fascinating family. Perfect book for anyone interested in the Roosevelts.
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this fantastic biography!
I will upload my review on social media one month before the pub date.
Shelley Fraser Mickle does a great job in bringing Alice Roosevelt to life, it was really well written and I was never bored when reading this. It left me wanting to read more from Shelley Fraser Mickle. It worked overall and I was glad I got a chance to read this.
I could really catch the author, Shelley Fraser Mickle's, enthusiasm for the Roosevelts, especially for Theodore (T.R.) and his daughter Alice. It became rather exciting, for a biography, that is.
My expectations of this book were that the main focus would be on Alice since, after all, part of the title reads, "Wild Child". However, I realized there was so much about T. R. but that to understand the child, the father and his treatment of her had to be investigated and examined, as the author has brought to the reader's attention. Knowing these bits and pieces of the Alice jigsaw puzzle allows the reader to gain a better grip on her personage especially as she came to espouse that label, "Wild Child".
I'm really happy to have read this book as my grandfather was a fan of T.R. and I got to know more about this former US president. Interestingly enough, grandpa never ever mentionted Alice, as far as I can recall. She must have been "too much" for him but I found her amusing and fascinating. She also has my sympathies but you'll have to read the book to know what that is all about.
In my opinion, any reader will feel privileged to be privy to the 'secrets' of the lives of these Roosevelts as revealed within this biography's pages.
A 4-Star rating from me.
~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~
Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the complimentary review copy sent by NetGalley and the publisher.
It's amazing how the definition of "wild" back in the days of Teddy Roosevelt wouldn't even raise an eyebrow today. However, Teddy's daughter, Alice, certainly lived up the the title of this book, White House Wild Child by Shelley Fraser Mickle.
The book is ostensibly focused on Alice but a fair amount of the page count does cover the lives of Teddy, his wife Edith, and his sister nicknamed Bamie. Mickle points out that she is normally a novel writer which gave me pause. Often, someone used to writing novels will try to "spice up" history books and it comes off very forced. Luckily, Mickle's prose is easy to read without feeling like she is desperately trying to keep me entertained. She has an eye for details and the highlights she needs to hit are here.
I will say the book falters in two places. Mickle tries to interject both a bit of psychology and today's norms into the story. What is on the page does not really support the paths Mickle tries to go down. This leads to the second problem which is when Mickle tries to get into the head of one of the characters. There are a few times where I wholeheartedly disagreed with her projections and it could be distracting. That said, this is still a fun read and Alice certainly deserves the spotlight she so desperately craved.
(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Charlesbridge Books.)
This is a wonderful and well researched biography Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. Her mother , Alice Hathaway Lee died just two days after she was born and her mother was the love of his life. He would not even say young Alice's name as she was growing up. This affected her greatly and she always seems to resent him for it and often did outrageous things to get his attention.
When she grew up some of these outrageous actions included Smoking which was not done by ladies in that day. When President Roosevelt forbid her to smoke in the White House she climbed upon the roof with her best friend and smoked..She also carried around a small green snake with her which often frightened and disgusted
those she was around until one day she found him dead and often believed someone had deliberately killed him.
When it was time for her to marry she chose Nicholas Longworth a young congressman who her father liked but her stepmother , Edith, did not due to his reputation for drinking.
Alice did marry Longworth but her happiness did not last long. Longworth was an alcoholic but was an effective politician and Alice was enthralled with politics. Alice had a daughter but had trouble relating to her because of her own upbringing but her father adored her. When he died Alice did try to love and support her daughter but unfortunately. tragedy ensued
I highly recommend this book to those who like biographies .
This book is really well done, it gives a great account of Alice's life and her relationship with her father. It does not get bogged down in a lot of details, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved reading about Alice and all the obstacles she faced in her life.
White House Wild Child isn’t a full biography of Alice Roosevelt, but rather a focused, partial biography of her childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood during her father Theodore Roosevelt (TR)’s rise to and occupation of the office of the Presidency. Ostensibly this serves a twofold purpose, Mickle’s aim being to illustrate Alice’s impact on her father’s Presidency and the impact of a father’s Presidency on a love-starved child. Unfortunately, I never felt as though these points were adequately illustrated or examined, and I found myself wishing I had just picked up a full biography of Alice Roosevelt instead. Much is made of Alice being a rule-breaker who was able to escape consequences for her daring, but I wish we were given more context about the usual consequences for breaking ‘the rules’ of Victorian society that Alice was risking, and about other contemporary women who were breaking those rules successfully that Alice may have known about.
Mickle also spends a great deal of time on Bamie (Anna Eleanor) Roosevelt, Alice’s aunt, and seems to have realized midway through the book that she’d rather have chosen to write about Bamie instead. I think I might have enjoyed the book better if it were a history of the Roosevelt women (Bamie, Alice, Eleanor, and more) and not merely focused on a limited period of Alice’s life (and regularly taken over by the indomitable Bamie).
That said, I did enjoy my time with this history. Mickle’s narrative voice is engaging and easy to read, almost like listening to gossip imparted by a well-spoken friend. I liked her descriptions of the private lives of the Roosevelts and how she addresses and illuminates common anecdotes and myths about the family. Her affection and enthusiasm for her subject (Alice, and Bamie as well) is infectious, and I certainly learned a great deal about TR’s politics and Alice’s personality. I simply wasn’t sold on the intersection between the two as the driving force of the book. There is a lot of speculation about how Alice and TR may or may not have felt about various things; I would have liked more history and footnoted explanations as to what led Mickle to draw these conclusions about the Roosevelts’ thoughts.
It’s a quick read, informative and enjoyable, though not as comprehensive as a history buff may wish for. I’d recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in Victorian-era American women or the Roosevelt family who isn’t looking to dive into a brick of a biography.
This is a wonderful story about Teddy Roosevelt's oldest daughter Alice! She was quite a fascinating person! After reading other books about the Roosevelt's, I was very happy to see one that focused on Alice. The author did an outstanding job of writing about her life. I thoroughtly enjoyed this book!
Thank you to Net Galley, the publisher and the author for the chance to read and review this book!
Publish Date: October 3, 2023
Teddy Roosevelt once said of his daughter “I can do one of two things, I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.” Alice was her own women, headstrong and independent. She’s a fascinating historical figure. Alice was known for carrying a gun, a copy of the Constitution, and a green snake in her purse. When her father told her she couldn’t smoke under his roof, she climbed to the top of the White House and smoked on the roof. She became the most famous woman in America—and even the world—predating Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy as an object of public obsession. I highly recommend this book. Her antics alone are worth the read!
#whitehousewildchild #femalehistorymaker #aliceroosevelt #theodoreroosevelt #shelleyfrasermickle #charlesbridgepublishing #imagine #roosevelt #history
An intimate portrait of a complex lady....far ahead of her time in pep and attitude. Her father became president in 1901 and this era was the peak of her influence and rebellion.... Alice was out partying and firing pistols.
"White House Wild Child" is the life story of Theodore Roosevelt's eldest child Alice. Life begins in the most tragic way for her with her mother and namesake dying shortly after her birth of Brights disease.
I have looked up images of Alice....she was a beauty and stood tall and proud. But her antics were legendary too....This qoute from her father says it all "“I can do one of two things, I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Shelley Fraser Mickle's research provides a deep dive into a long life lived to the full....possibly Alice's life was most "lived" in her early life but the most rewarding elements came in later years, when she realised that she could be a mother figure.
Thanks to NetGalley, Shelley Fraser Mickle and Charlesbridge for my copy of this book, which was a fascinating read and an introduction to the Roosevelt family.
White House Wild Child by by Shelley Fraser Mickle is an examination of possible reasons they led to Alice Roosevelt Longworth being known as the White House Wild Child. Mickle explores Alice’s birth and death of her mother and paternal grandmother on the same day. Theodore appears to have never recovered from losing Alice’s mother and in turned appeared to ignore much of Alice’s life. For a man that history remembers as always playing, exploring and encouraging his children, he missed important milestones where Alice was concerned. Mickle brings to light that TR never called Alice by name and in his book. This could be linked back to her being named after her mother Alice Hathaway Lee. Mickle also points out that in his book “Letters to My Children” there are none to Alice. The majority of the book centers on TR, Alice’s aunt Bamie (Anna Eleanor) Roosevelt and her stepmother Edith. Each of contributed to Alice’s behavior but I wanted to know more about Alice. I would have liked to hear more of Alice’s voice when she was going out every night or on the trip with Taft. I felt like the end was rushed but it leads me to go search for more information on Alice and Eleanor as well as her life with Longworth and Borah. The book provides knowledge of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt who is often overlooked and most likely would have been president if she was born in a different time. Thank you NetGalley, Charlesbridge, Imagine and Shelley Fraser Mickle for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Charlesbridge Publishing for an uncorrected proof of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I have spent a great deal of my life reading history about famous female figures in European history. Recently I have become interested in the women that played a role in what is now referred to as the United States. So when I came across this book about Alice Roosevelt I was very interested. Someone had actually recommended that I read more about her so I jumped at the opportunity to read this book.
I will start by saying that Fraser Mickle's writing is a solid 5 out of 5. I was immediately drawn into the narrative and I was incredibly frustrated when the batter on my Kindle died halfway through because I wanted to keep reading. Fraser Mickle clearly enjoyed researching and writing this book and that clearly showed in her writing so that alone made this book a joy to read.
That being said I think that a more apt title for this book would have been Theodore Roosevelt and His Women. Part of the draw for me was learning about Alice Roosevelt, but I would argue that only a quarter of this book actually mentions her and I honestly feel that is being generous. I completely understand wanting to situate Alice in the context in which she was born, but when Alice does appear throughout the book it feels a bit that these are the times that Fraser Mickle is speculating on what Alice must have been thinking or felt.
Also, the more the book went on the less clear I was about whether or not the author actually liked their subject. That is no way to say that an author has to like the subject of their book to write about them, but my overall takeaway of Alice as a person was that she was a self-absorbed, loudmouth, who wanted people to value her opinion because she was not loved by her father as a child. Frankly, that reading feels reductive, but Fraser Mickle really drove home that Theodore never loved Alice as he did his other children and she resented that, which to be fair is a traumatic thing, but it felt that there wasn't enough nuance in the discussion. Fraser Mickle simply states over and over that Alice wasn't loved as a child by her father (or her stepmother) and as a result, she was stunted emotionally. I'm not sure if this was the takeaway because the focus of the text was Alice's childhood years or because that is an accurate reflection of who Alice was. The use of Alice's diaries and letters was really interesting, but I wish there had been more of them throughout the book. If I was simply rating the book on Alice Roosevelt's content I would rate it 2.5 out of 5.
One thing I am absolutely not ambiguous about in this writing is the author's feelings about Aunt Bye and Theodore Roosevelt (TR). These figures dominate the book and while there is some slight criticism of TR both he and Aunty Bye come off smelling like roses. I will fully admit that next to the snippets about Alice, reading about her Aunt was my favourite part of the book. Bamie lead an incredibly interesting life and the way that Fraser Mickle wrote about her really made me root for her. I was thrilled when Bamie found love and I was sad when she died. I however did not have the same positivity toward TR. He is from the depiction in this book (and likely in life) the perfect picture of toxic masculinity.
As a prime example: TR has a wife who dies and then he NEVER mentions her again, to the detriment of the daughter that he allows to be named after said wife. Every time his second wife has a child he leaves for a hunting trip. Now I get that it was a different time, but Edith was clearly exhibiting behaviours that were not normal for her (would be classified as postpartum depression today) and he just peace out and went west.
Another thing I found interesting is that TR's relationships with the African American community were mentioned (although sparingly) no mention is made of the fact that his push to make national parks dislocated Native communities off of their ancestral lands.
This is a super interesting book if you want to learn more about the first Roosevelt family (i.e., Teddy and not FDR). I'm not sorry that I read this book, but if you are looking to read something that entirely focuses on Alice this might not be the book for you. It's also a good read for some historical tidbits, albeit from the focus of Roosevelt's orbit.
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I am 66, so the names of the Roosevelt family are familiar to me. But I really didn't know much about the family. Plenty in this book about Alice, but you also learn about other members of the family. Very interesting, and it kept my attention. Well worth reading!
A good introduction to Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt -- not too deep into the details of her life, and at times it felt like the happenings around her were being focused on more than her, but overall an interesting read.
She was a media sensation, with Gibson Girl looks. The newspapers called her Princess Alice. Her signature blue dress inspired the song Alice Blue Gown. She accompanied her father President Theodore Roosevelt to Germany where the kaiser asked her to christen his yacht; the Meteor Waltz was published in Germany with her image on the sheet music cover. She was the society first woman to smoke in public; Lucky Strike cigarettes ran an ad with her promoting them.
Alice Lee Roosevelt shocked her family and society by pushing the boundaries.
Her mother died on the day of her birth, breaking her father’s heart so deeply that he ran away to his ranch in the West, leaving her under his sister Bamie’s care. As a girl, she was a tomboy, running amok with a gang of boys. She was spoiled by her maternal grandparents. She had a life-long battle of wills with her step-mother Edith. Alice wore a green snake to social gatherings. She flirted with men, determined to snare a rich man. At nineteen she married, only to realize that her husband was a drinker and a womanizer. She was a bad mother but a good grandmother.
Alice Roosevelt is remembered for her sardonic remarks. She had a pillow embroidered with “If you can’t say something good about someone sit right her by me.”
I have read many books on TR and a biography of Edith, and was interested in learning more about Alice. This biography would be a good choice if you are not familiar with TR and his family.
Most of the book covers the Roosevelt family and TR’s career. The author concludes that Alice was emotionally damaged by not having experienced warm parental love. Bamie loved her, but Edith insisted that Alice live with TR. But Alice was the image of her mother, a constant reminder to TR of his loss. Edith was an unrelenting perfectionist, and Alice responded by rebellion.
Thanks to the publisher for a free book.
White House Wild Child was an interesting look at the life of Alice Roosevelt, the eldest daughter of TR. Alice’s longing for her father’s love and approval is the driving force of her scandalous (for the times) behavior like smoking cigarettes, galavanting about without a chaperone, and attending salons with a snake draped on her body. When she didn’t have her father’s attention, she had the attention of the nation who bought newspapers with her photo on them and flocked to political events she attended with TR.
As fascinating as Alice’s story is that of her cousin Eleanor, and her aunt Bamie who essentially ran her brother TR’s campaign and presidency as well as FDR’s. I agree with Alice, as referenced in the book, what we really need is a book about Bamie. These strong, independent women were a force in their time and it’s interesting to imagine the impact they could have had if they weren’t forced by the times to take a backseat to the men around them.
I would have liked more about the years after TR’s presidency but recognize that in leaving the White House, Alice left the spotlight. Overall, I enjoyed this book and wish to thank the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review it.
Alice Roosevelt was ahead of her time and a truly interesting woman to read about. She lives up to the Wild Child title and kept her family on their toes. Shelley Fraser Mickle's writing kept me enthralled with Alice's escapades.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.
I really enjoyed the book White House Wild Child by Shelley Fraser Mickle. I knew nothing about Alice Roosevelt, the eldest daughter of Theodore Roosevelt. I actually knew little about the entire Roosevelt family, but this book was fascinating to me. It drew the curtains back on a period of history that I knew little about and brought me more understanding of life in the Victorian era here in the United States. I found myself both chuckling & saddened by her life story. I’ve already recommended this book to friends & family. (Thank you NetGalley and CharlesBridge for providing me with a copy of this book. I was not required to leave a positive review. All opinions are my own.)
A very well researched and written biography about Alice Roosevelt Longworth - the first "wild" child in the White House. Jenna and Barbara Bush had NOTHING on Alice.
While she grew up as the apple of her father's eye, Alice was the black sheep of the Roosevelt family. She smoked, She drank. She shot pistols. She carried around a snake. She was everything that polite society was not and.....I think I love her.
We need more Alice Roosevelt's in our lives.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this book about my new idol.
White House Wild Child
How Alice Roosevelt Broke All the Rules and Won the Heart of America
by Shelley Fraser Mickle
Pub Date 03 Oct 2023
Biographies & Memoirs| Nonfiction \(Adult\)
A copy of White House Wild Child was provided to me by Charlesbridge imagine, and Netgalley:
“I can do one of two things, I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Alice Roosevelt mesmerized the world with her antics and beauty during Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, from 1901 to 1909.
Alice was known for carrying a gun in her purse, a copy of the Constitution, and a snake. After her father told her she couldn't smoke under his roof, she climbed to the top of the White House and smoked there. In terms of public obsession, she predated Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy as the most famous woman in America.
She continued to push against social norms and pull political sway behind the curtain of privilege and access even as her popularity grew. Both the social and political worlds were hypnotized by her acerbic wit and outspoken tendencies.
This superbly researched and powerfully written book places the reader in the time and place of Alice and asks what it would have been like to be a strong-willed powerful woman of that era. This historical celebration of Alice's life draws from both primary and secondary sources.
I give White House Wild Child five out of five stars!
White House Wild Child is a fascinating historical biography of Alice Lee Roosevelt daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Alice Lee was born on the day her mother died. Her father so stricken with grief, effectively removed any piece of evidence that she existed from his and Alice's life. Alice was named after her mother, but her father never said her name, often referring to her as baby and sister once he remarried. She was raised in the beginning of her life by her Aunt Baimie, Teddy's sister. She was raised with love by her and spoiled by her mother's family. But she craved the love and attention she felt her father did not show her and as a result set out to be the center of attention good and bad.
Alice Lee became a media sensation after her father became the president. She accompanied her father President Theodore Roosevelt to Germany where the kaiser asked her to christen his yacht. She flirted with men and was determined to snare a very rich man. Alice married Nick Longworth at the age of nineteen. It was not the marriage she had hoped for, her husband was a drinker and a womanizer.
Alice Lee is remembered for her sarcastic and sometimes brutal remarks. She had a pillow embroidered with “If you can’t say something good about someone sit right her by me.”
This is the first book I have read about the life of Teddy Roosevelt and his daughter, Alice Lee. It is a fascinating story of both their lives. In spite of their station in society, it was full of sadness and the way the dealt with their grief. The book is only 256 pages, but it felt much longer due to all the history which it covered. I really enjoy reading and learning about the presidents and their families.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and author for an advanced copy of this book. I read it and am leaving this review voluntarily.
Alice Roosevelt had a tragic beginning. Firstborn daughter to Theodore Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Lee, her mother died a few days after her birth of Bright’s Disease. Of note historically, her grandmother, and Teddy’s mother, died the same day. It was Valentine’s Day 1884. Roosevelt wrote in his diary “The light has gone out of my life.” So distraught at his loss, Theodore hands off his daughter to his sister, Bamie, asking her to raise Alice, and heads to the Badlands where he owns a ranch.
I’ve read a lot of Roosevelt history, including other biographies of Alice Roosevelt, the “wild child” of Theodore, who could command the press just like her father and create news wherever she went. What makes this book even more interesting is the look at how influential Teddy’s older sister, Bamie, was on him and his firstborn daughter. Bamie was a shrewd politico in her own right and was the sole caregiver to Alice the first three years of her life.
It is said and written about in many places that Teddy Roosevelt never spoke to his daughter about her mother and never even called her by name, always using nicknames. Imagine never talking to your child about their other parent. Any stories Alice heard about her mother came from Bamie or her maternal grandparents and her mother’s sisters, but they were few and far in-between. Imagine what that does to one’s psyche.
When Theodore Roosevelt got married to Edith Carow, he asked Bamie if he and Edith could raise Alice which just broke her heart. Edith wanted Alice raised with her half-brothers and sisters when the time came (they wouldn’t have to wait long: Ted Jr. was born not long after the marriage). But the weird thing is that Edith treated Alice differently than with her own kids, which made Alice feel even more confused and left out. She felt like she wasn’t part of the family, that she didn’t belong, that the only way to get her father’s attention was to act out.
And act out she did. There are the many stories of Alice’s exploits once her father ascended to the presidency. The small green snake she carried with her wherever she went named Emily Spinach, the smoking in public at a time when a lady simply did not do that, riding around in a motor car. Shocking!
TR would get mad at Alice for stealing some of the spotlight, yet he also used her in several cases to deflect the press from his behind-the-scenes machinations. Alice had no clue she was being used; she just thought her father was finally paying some attention to her. The press called her “Princess Alice” and she ate the attention up because she wasn’t getting enough attention at home.
I found out new things about Alice Roosevelt in this book, and the further insight into her and Theodore’s relationship with Bamie was a plus. Highly recommend for anyone interested in Presidential history or enjoys reading about a woman ahead of her time.
An absolutely fascinating read about Theodore Roosevelt, his sibling Barbie and his family life with the main feature being his eldest child, Alice. I grew up with the tale of Alice and her blue gown, her beauty, and how she would demurely be seated at White House functions long after the Roosevelt had left the White House. Alert: author Shelley Frazier Mickle sets the record straight in this well researched book. The dysfunction of TR when his first wife died after childbirth, the subsequent handling of the stepmother of Alice and the redeeming Aunt Barbie who raised her as a baby until she was reunited with TR and his second wife. Oh, enjoy the antics of this child and the Gilded Age Society but be prepared for the rearing of this intelligent young woman. I would have liked to see more dates within the story because it was confusing as to several of the incidents mentioned. Readers of history, the Roosevelts and Presidential History plus child psychologists will benefit from this book. Thanks to NetGalley and Charlesbridge Publishers for an ARC of this book; this is my honest opinion.
She carried a snake called Emily Spinach in her handbag, smoked on the roof of the White House and hid little bottles of whiskey up her gloves! Young Alice Roosevelt loved to shock people, especially her father and step-mother. Unfortunately, all this was a grab for attention from her emotionally distanced father, although she finally won his admiration, and his love, although she probably didn’t realise it.
This is a riveting psychological study of the young Alice, and her troubled relationship with her father. He found it difficult to love her, because her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. He couldn’t even say her name until she was practically grown up. Luckily, Alice did have the unconditional love of Bamie, her wise Aunt, but the lack of love of her father and step-mother had tragic consequences.
Shelley Fraser Mickle writes about her subject with great enthuseasm and sensitivity, and it is easy to see why Alice Roosevelt Longworth still remains afascinating character.
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TR once said I can run the country or I can control Alice but I cannot do both.
Wild Child is an apt description of Alice Roosevelt. A rebel from a youngster she also grew up to be one of the power players in DC.
I enjoyed reading more about this ribald woman who I think just wanted nothing more than her father’s love and attention.
Alice Roosevelt was quite a woman. Mickle's book is thoroughly researched, but at times it was dry to read. I think I was expecting more of a novelization. If you are interested in the Roosevelts and in that time period you would enjoy it.
This is a very interesting read about Teddy Roosevelt's somewhat rebellious wild child daughter Alice, who for her time was quite scandalous. Alice was a media darling, giving them plenty to write about. Rebelling against her father's lack of attention, she went out of her way to be noticed. Granted what she did, the antics she pulled would be nothing by today's standards, but for her time they were deemed outrageous!
This is a good detailed look into this woman who caused such a sensation, and whom a nation called "Princess"". I really enjoyed learning of Alice, I of course knew who the Roosevelts were, but had never read anything about them in detail so this helped to put character to the names I had heard throughout the years of reading history. I love traveling back in time through the books I read and I especially like the time period of Alice's time in the White House and beyond.
Very interesting, enjoyable, the author writes in such a manner that it is easy to stay interested and the pace flows nicely along. I would recommend to history buffs and those who just like rebellious wild children of prominent public figures. I give 4 stars for this book.
Thank you to Charlesbridge, and to Net Galley for the free ARC, I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
I received this book as an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the author and publisher for this opportunity.
The author clearly did their research and wrote a very good book. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the life of Alice.
Shelley Fraser Mickle White House Wild Child How Alice Roosevelt Broke All the Rules and Won the Heart of America, Charlesbridge, Imagine,October 2023.
Thank you, NetGalley, for providing me with this uncorrected proof for review.
Shelley Fraser Mickle has drawn together a wealth of information, insights and speculation about the lives of the women and children associated with Theodore Roosevelt, as well as the man himself. How much is insight and how much is speculation is one of the problems I have in assessing what claims to be the focus of this book: Alice Roosevelt and the explanation for her personality and behaviour. She is portrayed as a ‘wild child’ of the White House, the publicity she engendered because of her appearance and behaviour referred to from early in the book. Her birth, the death of her mother two days afterwards, her father’s refusal to use her name because of its reminder of her dead mother, the loss of her wet nurse, her shortened residence with Bamie (Theodore Roosevelt’s sister) in her early years, her holidays with her maternal grandparents and her eventual permanent home with her father, stepmother Edith, and siblings are variously used as an explanation for her behaviour. I found the psychological explanations rather contrived and unnecessary. The book became more enjoyable when I discounted these, viewed much of the subjects’ proposed thoughts as speculation, and concentrated on the material that could be supported with citations.
Here, Fraser Mickle has done the context and family proud. She has written an engaging narrative which brings the Roosevelts and the society, political, economic and social in which they moved, into strong focus. This period of American history was largely unknown to me, and Fraser Mickle not only increased my understanding, but did so in a relatively entertaining way. That T.R., as his family referred to him, was really the focus of the book, seconded only by Bamie whose ever present vigilance both was accepted by Edith and rejected is starkly apparent. Bamie’s smart sidestepping potential eviction from her brother’s life is a delight to read about – even her own marriage and birth of her son did not keep her from the political world of Roosevelt’s governorship, vice presidency and eventual presidency. Alongside this political endeavour Alice’s interventions appear dramatic, often unlikeable, and usually ineffectual. Although they garnered her the limelight, her father’s attention was easily diverted. Alice’s presence during her father’s surgery after an accident is a distinction – it is noted that her toughness and burgeoning interest in politics was at this time appreciated.
Alice appears to have depended upon her beauty, her waywardness and inability to become a dutiful White House daughter, or even a loyal one, to engender the publicity it seems she craved. Her behaviour, looked at from the perspective of a young woman determined to adopt a role for herself that gave her a status beyond that of a White House daughter, whose worth was unrecognised by her father leaves room for sympathy. Fraser Mickle provides a plausible picture of this young woman as rebelling against the confines of the society in which she matured.
There are asides to Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt which, while fragmentary are a welcome addition to this account of American politics from Theodore Rosevelt’s first marriage, the birth of Alice, his second marriage, more children and through his time as governor, vice president, presidency after McKinley’s death, and eventual election in 1904. Throughout this period runs the thread of Alice’s life, her relationships with her family, and her desires and later, her search for a husband. Her political endeavours appear to be spasmodic, although President Roosevelt used her ability to court publicity to advantage on several occasions. Alice’s life becomes the focus of the work, together with Paulina, her daughter, and later, her daughter, Joanna in the later chapters. There are political references to Alice’s distain for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt which continue her long held animosity to her cousins.
The epilogue outlines Shelley Fraser Mickle’s interest in the Roosevelts and her admiration for Alice. She refers to her links with the Roosevelts through what she sees as her similar traits. Her explanation for the work resonates with me, although I maintain the concerns I noted at the beginning of this review. The bibliography includes books well worth following up, and some citations for each chapter.
Shelley Fraser Mickle brings Alice Roosevelt Longworth to life in this fascinating, compelling, and riveting biography of Theodore Roosevelt’s forgotten and most famous child who would later be called the “other Washington Monument” for her seventy-plus years spent in the capital of the United States. Mickle brings her fictional writing skills to this biography, focusing on Alice’s experiences, struggles, and her triumphs as a Roosevelt and a political doyenne in Washington, D.C., throughout the twentieth century. Drawing on primary sources, Mickle focuses on Alice’s relationships, particularly with her father, aunt, stepmother, daughter, and husband, and these relationships expand the reader’s understanding of Alice’s world. Mickle’s biography is immersive and fascinating, full of incredible historical figures whose interactions or understandings of Alice, from her childhood through the White House and her political matron years, inform readers about this fascinating woman and her incredible political life. Mickle’s organization of this book relies on concise, readable chapters that bring various phases of Alice’s life and the events from that period to light. Mickle’s biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth is a fascinating insight into her life, the twentieth century, and the private lives of the Roosevelt political dynasty that readers are sure to enjoy.