American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt, by Stephanie Marie Thornton, is the story of President Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter. I admit that I really didn’t know he had a daughter prior to finding this book. The novel does exactly what historical fiction should do. It takes the public record of a rebellious girl and creates a novel of a complex personality. Alice Roosevelt is portrayed as fun and outrageous, headstrong with a passion for experiencing life. She chews gum, smokes cigars, plays poker, and carries a snake in her purse. At the time her father was president, however, these were not traits admired in women who were social leaders.
Alice’s mother died a few days after her birth, and Alice spends her life craving approval from her father, whose attention focused on his second wife and their children. She falls in love with congressman Nick Longworth, who is unfaithful to her. The story takes us behind the scenes of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, adding layers to what is publicly known through the Teapot Dome scandal, two world wars, and a family feud. I find myself both admiring Alice and shaking my head in amusement at her antics. The fictionalized story blends well with the historical facts, making this novel a wonderful read. I think Alice Roosevelt would have enjoyed how she is represented here.