An American Princess

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“An American Princess, The Many Lives of Allene Tew” by Annejet van der Zijl is an interesting historical fiction novel. It is about the fascinating and remarkable life Allene Tew who lived during the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. I enjoyed reading about Allene Tew. She was a beautiful and intelligent woman who became one of the wealthiest women in the US in this time.

Along well developed chapters, we follow Allene in her very busy life through US and Europe. She was married multiple times, experienced the grief and anguish of losing her children as well as she went through scandals of divorce. Despite the fact that her life was at times dramatic, she never lost her determination and she had never allowed her personal tragedies to limit her life or threaten the future. 

Not only Annejet van der Zijl wrote an admirable biography of an American lady but also she described very well the society where Allen lived in. Descriptions of the time period were really interesting and informative. Actually the author drew a good picture of events that happened at that time: mass arrivals of immigrants to the US, pioneering families building American nation, the Gilded Age, the Spanish epidemic flu in 1918, the Great Depression of 1929 that led to financial crisis that changed millionaires into poor, WW I  and WW II, etc. 

Just one challenge. Sometimes I had difficulties to follow the story. There were so many details that I was wondering what certain details had to do with Allen. Despite this issue, I think the book is well written.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction
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Noun: The Gilded Age: is defined as the time between the Civil War & World World War I during which...

... the U.S. population and economy grew quickly, there was a lot of political corruption and corporate financial misdealings and many wealthy people lived very fancy lives.

If you enjoy reading about American pioneers and their immigration to America; the Gilded Age, or/and the Victorian/Edwardian eras, American Princess is the book for you.

A well-crafted, researched and interesting story about American girl from Wisconsin that was ahead of her time and a trail blazer.

Before there was Meghan Markle, Rita Hayworth , Grace Kelly, Princess Caroline Lee Radziwill , Queen Noor of Jordan there was Allene Tew.

Allene was married multiple times, experienced the grief and anguish of losing all her children. Went through the scandal of divorce but by 1945 she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

She was a socialite , trend-setter and a world traveller before it was a thing. Her hobbies was buying and decorating houses and apartments from New York , Newport , Paris, Rome, and the south of France . She decorated them and then move on to collect something new.

I enjoyed reading about the life of Allene Tew , she is an interesting subject . In some ways, her life remicent to some of Edith Wharton book's characters and The Custom of the Country comes to mind.

 #AnAmericanPrincess #NetGalley
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Interesting! I had never heard of her before, but I’m glad I took the time to read this and get to know a fascinating woman a bit better. Annejet van der Zijl does a fine job bringing an unknown story to light.
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An American Princess The Many

Lives of Allene Tew by Annejet van der Zijl is an amazing and engaging portrait of an American lady and the upper society where she lived in.
Born in Jamestown at the end of 1800s this city was famous mainly for woodworking, textile industry and for exporting large ice blocks for keeping at a cool temperature various foods. It was this one a little, big revolution.
Charles and Jenette were the parents of Allene.
Allene was born on July 7 1872 in Janesville, Rock County. She was the only child of this couple.
The destiny of Allene a girl ready to conquer the world thanks to her rebel character was at first Tod Hostetter. We speak of the upper class of New York City.

The one who monopolized the mundane life of New York, if I can use this expression was the powerful family of the Astors, in grade to saying who was in and who was out in their list (400 names) of absolutely acceptable rich and powerful, aristocrat people with which sharing feasts, business, or vice-versa the ones out, unwanted because in the past that families experienced problems: so unwelcomed. The family of Vanderbilt was in the black list, for example, although incredibly rich.

The family Hostetter made fortune selling a special potion, an herbal potion in grade of curing a lot of illness and pains. It was a big and lucrative success for the family. They mainly became rich because of this potion. In 1870s David, the dad of Tod sold a million bottles a year. Every year a free almanac of their society was available for everyone in every grocery store. Close to the Bible this one was the most important book that you could see in the American houses at that times. David left,  when he died,  a fortune of 18 million.

Tod was young, in love for Allene and it happened: Allene became pregnant and Tod married her. It was a secret marriage for let know to the family that he had choosen his wife.

The powerful family of Tod didn't appreciate this love-story and absolutely they didn't like at all the idea of this gold digger, who, according to their point of view, became pregnant for causing all this trouble at their family.

Unaccepted as couple, banned by the Astors, Allene and Tod re-created alternative clubs, alternative places where spend their vacations. We speak of people with an immense fortune and a lot of privileges. 

Ted and Greta were their children; once Allene lost a baby, Verna. It was the day of the fourth birthday of Greta and Tod was devastated by this loss.
It was pretty common at that times to lose children also for a common flu but Tod didn't never recuperate, starting to adopt a dissolute life-style, losing a lot of money thanks to gambling and bad habits.
Vanderbilt after all said of inherited wealth: "It's a real handicap to happiness. It is a certain death to ambition as cocaine is to morality."

At the same time the elite of New York continued to celebrate with great and luxurious feasts. A democrat President was rejected for later choosing a republican one in grade to continue to keep things good for the elite and bad for the poorest ones.

But it was a big ball organized in 1897 that created a lot of polemics, although riches not touched by the protests.
Legend wants that the Astors opened the ball with this ditty: "When you Ain't Go No Money, You need Not to Come Around."

The terrible behavior of her husband Todd, brought Allene at a sad decision: she divorced from him. Tod anyway died pretty abruptly leaving her in profound costernation and sadness.

The second husband of Allene was Morton Nichols. He was 34 years when he met Allene.
It was a beautiful marriage at first. They traveled a lot but the union at the end was a fiasco and they divorced.

It's 1912: the Titanic hit an iceberg in the inaugural trip and sunk bringing with it the creme of New York. There were Benjamin Guggenheim, John Jacob Astor in that ship. This one was read by the elite of New York as a sign: a sign of new approaching disasters, a clear punishment for modern man's arrogance and presumption.

Anson Wood Burchard was the third and surely most beloved husband of Allene.
He loved her children (the second one detested them) he did all that he could for helping the family following also the children of Allene.When the first worldwwar started, Ted, a troublemaker at school decided to join the Aviation, as a pilot with great success.
Once, hit by the enemy, returned home. Allene, once understood that Ted wanted to return in the areas of war did all her best like also her husband for avoiding any danger. But it was impossible...
Ted died, and that same days, while they were still waiting for Ted's news,  Greta died because of the Spanish flu.
Allene was devastated.
It was more than a trauma for her. Greta married a good man and they were ready for children. Now, everything, a future like a granny, a future surrounded by nieces and nephews, gone. Like also her role as a mother.

In the future Allene did her best for hiding the fact that she had had two children and once she was a mother. She tried all her best for being a mother for other children; helping the ones of her friends.

Abruptly, and because of a bad indigestion after a lunch attended at some common friends's house, Burchard died.

To Allen this one was  a horrible shock, because this man represented to her the solidity she hadn't still known in the precedent unions.

While Henry Reuss started to become her fourth husband, the big crisis of New York City was approaching. The one of 1929.
Most people didn't have a roof anymore above their heads, and writes the author, "As Francis Scott Fitzgerald described the crisis-hit New York, stood the new Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world, empty- as thought to mock the megalomania and greed that had brought the city to its knees." The symbol of this crisis became the Empire, writes the author.

Allene decided of selling most of her estates.

She divorced by Ruess and her final husband was Armgard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld.

Allene died on 1955.

Wonderful book, written with joy, interest, enthusiasm and desire of sharing, it is a wonderful reading for everyone.

Highly recommended.

I thank NetGalley for this ebook.

Anna Maria Polidori
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I love historical fiction. This was told from more of a true historical POV than a fiction POV but it works. Ms. Allene Tew was quite a character in her day and led an interesting a remarkable life. The fascinating thing in this book is to have the protagonist be a woman and for that time period, most of the powerful people were men. Hearing how a woman, who was clearly beautiful, intelligent and did not waste any time with men who were not meeting her needs is truly remarkable.

#AnAmericanPrincessTheManyLivesOfAlleneTew #NetGalley
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Allene Tew embraced life with panache and fortitude, never allowing her personal tragedies life to curtail the future! Before her story begins, we have an introduction to the immigrant experience of the Tew family who started in America with literally nothing.  But this experience shaped Allene’s love of nature and the simple life even though she later acquired financial prosperity. This is not just the story of the Tew family but is also the story of the American nation as it grew industrially and financially in significant leaps and spurts. The book passes through Victorian times and the Gilded Age, during which the Tews indirectly achieve social and financial recognition. In a sense, the Tew family’s fortunes parallel America’s growth, with its notable growth phases and its plunges downward, albeit brief.  Allene will marry five times, lose her two children and the one love of her life.  Her attitude to “loss” is startling: things happen, but one must go on, always looking to the future and not the past. This is a tribute to the Victorian and American spirit which has survived and risen above some ignominious events.  What is notable about Allene’s story are the actions she takes to obtain the finances she needs but which take second place to her total embrace of life, culture and friends.  Even her disappointments are muted as she had a surprising attitude to those who chose their own destiny: love them no matter what they do.   Relish every page of this story of fine friends, food, dress, art, design, and nature.  It’s Allene’s and America’s story! Reads like historical fiction!
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An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl is the fascinating true story of Allene Tew. Born to a pioneering family, she would grow up to be one of the most powerful people in the Gilded Age. I’ve always been fascinated with the Gilded Age, both with novels set in this time period and the architecture that remains from then. I was excited to read this book and learn more. Readers who love history will not be disappointed. This is a very good read. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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I kept seeing this title pop up on my Kindle Recommendations but never decided to read it until I saw the reviews on Goodreads. I'm so glad NetGalley allowed me to read this title! I loved learning more about Mrs. Tew and her life. The Gilded age has always fascinated me and being able to learn more about it in conjunction with viewing that time period through a woman's perspective was even better!
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This is an exhaustive biography of an American woman who lived during the first half of the 20th century - encompassing the Great Depression, WW2, and the healing of Europe after the war.  I questioned why the author chose this woman to write about. Although Allene Tew was, indeed, a remarkable woman who led a remarkably interesting life - why her?  At the end of the book, Ms der Zijl explained that it had been one of her goals to write a story about an old woman who died by the sea!  What a story it is - names like Astor, Beatrix, Chrysler, Carnegie, princes, princesses, kings, and movie stars all had a place in Allene’s life.  I enjoyed the historical setting and attention to detail.  And...finally Allene did, in fact, die by the sea when she was an old woman.  This is a carefully crafted biography and I would recommend it to history lovers or to romantics who like to peek into the lives of the rich and famous.
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Vn der Zijl encountered Allene Tew while writing her dissertation about Prince Consort Bernhard of the Netherlands, and returned to her for a full biography.  Tew, a townie daughter in Chautauqua, NY, eloped with a wealthy Pittsburgh quack medicine heir (who had a gambling and drinking problem) and eventually won over her snotty in-laws by leveraging the new Daughters of the American Revolution.  When that marriage collapsed, she married (probably as a beard), a stockbroker who had been recently dumped by President Grant's grand-daughter.  A third husband was a doting engineer crucial to the rise of General Electric, who stood by her as a son died in WWI air corps service and her daughter perished from the 1918 flu, but who died in 1927, just before the stock market crash dented her enormous fortune.  A fourth husband, who offered European respectability and a ready-made set of step children, was German Prince Heinrich XXXIII of Reuss, who alienated Tew by becoming a Nazi, sending her back to the US with a sexy Russian bisexual ex-pat courtier in tow (who eventually became her next and final husband).  Tew's presence in American and European social circles from the 1890s to the 1950s offers an outsider's view of the rise and fall of the American Gilded Age, European Lost Generation and post-war attempts to patch the upper class of the Atlantic world back together.
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I usually avoid historical nonfiction but this book's premise sounded so intriguing I had to read it. It was a bit dry at times, but it would be impossible to make it less so since the subject of the book was not here to tell the personal details. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and strong female characters. 

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my review copy**
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It was such an interesting time period. So many American heiress marrying broke royals! Allene Tew was one I'd never heard of so I had to learn her story. This didn't disappoint at all! Goodness she had a very busy and interesting life! I'm happy for my nice quite one. Money isn't everything.
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Despite a few dry areas, I really did enjoy this book.  It reads like a fiction historical novel more so than a biography.  I found the descriptions of the time period and the descriptions of how lives were lived during that time period to be interesting and informative.  Allene Tew was definitely a fascinating woman and kept her head above water in creative ways.  She didn't always make wise decisions, but she looked out for herself and made something of herself.  Sometimes at the expense of others.  However, she worked hard to survive so many tragedies in her life and was indeed a remarkable life.  I thought the author handled her well and I gleaned an understanding of life in that era of growth and revolution while reading about Allene Tew's life.
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Historical, true story, written as a novel. LOVED IT!  I love autobiographies and biographies. I usually pick from a list of individuals I have heard of, but Allene was new to me. I was not sure how I would like  this. I am so glad I requested a copy. Thank you NetGalley!
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"An American Princess. The Many Lives of Allene Tew" by Annejet van der Zijl is a beautifully written, fascinating biography of Allene Tew, who had such an adventurous life that it is hard to believe it really happened. She married five very different men, including millionaires, a prince Heinrich Reuss the Thirty-Third and a Russian count Kotzebue. She travelled a lot in her lifetime, she changed countries and continents, bought and sold houses. She divorced husbands, faced horrible personal tragedies and ostracism. Her bravery and ambition took her from Jamestown, New York to mansions of American high society and royal palaces in Europe. Her life story is shown on the canvas of the ever-changing American society and the eventful history of America and Europe. 

Allene came from a family of pioneers and self-made successful entrepreneurs. She was a beautiful girl with blue eyes and blond hair that easily caught men attention. What is more, she was smart, ambitious and wanted to experience life at its best. She lived in the Gilded Age, time of unprecedented expansion and optimism in America, when anyone could become a millionaire, or at least it seemed so. In that time women had limited ways of changing their fates and having an eventful, fulfilling existence. The one way to achieved it was of course a marriage to a man of means. Young and beautiful Allene eloped with a young, handsome millionaire against his family wishes. In few years she conquered the high society of Pittsburgh and her husband’s family. She had enough spunk for ten women! Nothing was impossible for her. As she wrote in one of her letters: “If one has the will and persistence, one CAN do things.” 

But her character shined the brightest at the time of tragedy and crisis. She was brave enough to get divorced when husbands disappointed her and made her life miserable. She had enough courage to risk her heart again and again. She held her head high when tragedies struck and she lost loved ones. She was a positive force in lives of many people. She changed their life for the better and got things done. Honestly, I would love to have a friend or an aunt like her. Not only because she was resourceful and was a powerful force to recon with, but because of her positive outlook on life and people. Despite pain and disappointment she keep on enjoying her life and loving people. 

What I adore most about Allene is that she never lost her spunk. Even when the financial crisis changed millionaires into paupers she was able to hold her own and emerge after a few years victorious. She didn’t care about other people opinions and judgment in society, when her happiness and future were at stake. I also adore the fact that she managed to marry her true love and that she was happy with him till death separated them. When other people would only see disappointment, devastation and hopelessness she was able to see friends and chances for a positive change.

Overall, Allene Tew was a charming, strong-willed and courageous real-life Cinderella. If you want to read a story about a real-life Cinderella, you have to read this book. 

I received "An American Princess" from the publisher via NetGalley. I would like to thank the author and the publisher for providing me with the advance reader copy of the book.
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"An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew" by Annejet van der Zijl was definitely not what I was expecting. From the description I was expecting a fiction book about the life of a historical person. This book however is definitely a non-fiction history style read. The story seems to be about events which surrounded Allene Tew and not really about who she WAS. The book felt very chronological and interesting but did not engage me in a story. At times I just wanted to know about Allene and not all about the history of society at that time. However, to its advantage, the author does go into very in-depth descriptions and really gets to the heart and motivation behind peoples actions during this time in history. 

I also really LOVE the cover.

NetGalley has this book marked as "General Fiction (Adult)" genre but Goodreads has it classified under "History", "Non-Fiction" and "Biography". I think my judgement of this book was marred by my expectation of it being a fiction novel. 

I do want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for giving me a chance to read this book.
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I could not believe that this was a biography!  It was so well written and Allene led quite the life!  I love reading biographies about little known people, as I find that I go into them without any preconceptions.
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I have to admit that Alleen Tew truly had an incredible and very dramatic life. At certain points, I could not believe how unfortunate she was, despite being financially very fortunate. Her story could make a good costume drama with all the glamour of the turn of the century, and all of the pain of loss at failed marriages, the Spanish flu and World War I. To think that a simple girl from America could live such a colorful life, get married to all the rich men and then advance to become part of a royal family? It's pretty unbelievable.

However, despite the story itself seeming as if fictional, it was told in quite a boring way. Perhaps it's me or that I expected it to be a bit more fictionalized, or the fact that I hadn't actually heard anything about Alleen even existing before I started reading this book, but I struggled reading this. If you are interested in Alleen's history though and already know something about her, you will probably find this a lot more interesting than I did.

I thank the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange to an honest review. It does not affect my opinion.
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I had never heard of Allene Tew before reading this book. This was highly enjoyable. I read it quickly. I would recommend it.
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Good book - read it quickly, interesting character I had never heard about before!  Interesting to see the far reaching impact of Aliene - and the impact of her single life years and years later.
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