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The true story of a girl from the wilderness settlements of a burgeoning new America who became one of the most privileged figures of the Gilded Age. Born to a pioneering family in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, Allene Tew was beautiful, impetuous, and frustrated by the confines of her small hometown. At eighteen, she met Tod Hostetter at a local dance, having no idea The true story of a girl from the wilderness settlements of a burgeoning new America who became one of the most privileged figures of the Gilded Age. Born to a pioneering family in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, Allene Tew was beautiful, impetuous, and frustrated by the confines of her small hometown. At eighteen, she met Tod Hostetter at a local dance, having no idea that the mercurial charmer she would impulsively wed was heir to one of the wealthiest families in America. But when he died twelve years later, Allene packed her bags for New York City. Never once did she look back. From the vantage point of the American upper class, Allene embodied the tumultuous Gilded Age. Over the course of four more marriages, she weathered personal tragedies during World War I and the catastrophic financial reversals of the crash of 1929. From the castles and châteaus of Europe, she witnessed the Russian Revolution and became a princess. And from the hopes of a young girl from Jamestown, New York, Allene Tew would become the epitome of both a pursuer and survivor of the American Dream.


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The true story of a girl from the wilderness settlements of a burgeoning new America who became one of the most privileged figures of the Gilded Age. Born to a pioneering family in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, Allene Tew was beautiful, impetuous, and frustrated by the confines of her small hometown. At eighteen, she met Tod Hostetter at a local dance, having no idea The true story of a girl from the wilderness settlements of a burgeoning new America who became one of the most privileged figures of the Gilded Age. Born to a pioneering family in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, Allene Tew was beautiful, impetuous, and frustrated by the confines of her small hometown. At eighteen, she met Tod Hostetter at a local dance, having no idea that the mercurial charmer she would impulsively wed was heir to one of the wealthiest families in America. But when he died twelve years later, Allene packed her bags for New York City. Never once did she look back. From the vantage point of the American upper class, Allene embodied the tumultuous Gilded Age. Over the course of four more marriages, she weathered personal tragedies during World War I and the catastrophic financial reversals of the crash of 1929. From the castles and châteaus of Europe, she witnessed the Russian Revolution and became a princess. And from the hopes of a young girl from Jamestown, New York, Allene Tew would become the epitome of both a pursuer and survivor of the American Dream.

30 review for An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew

  1. 5 out of 5

    Teri

    The title of this book would be more appropriate as "The Many Loves of Allene Tew." This book is more about the people that surrounded Allene than it is about herself. Through most of the book, Allene is a secondary character. Allene Tew was a young woman from the late 19th century who came from a pioneering family and married into a higher social status. Although her first husband was from a wealthy family, he was not highly regarded and less so once he married the young woman from the country. The title of this book would be more appropriate as "The Many Loves of Allene Tew." This book is more about the people that surrounded Allene than it is about herself. Through most of the book, Allene is a secondary character. Allene Tew was a young woman from the late 19th century who came from a pioneering family and married into a higher social status. Although her first husband was from a wealthy family, he was not highly regarded and less so once he married the young woman from the country. Her husband Tod Hostetter was the first in a long line of husbands. Each marriage seemed to edit her social status, not always for the better and she eventually wed a Dutch prince and a German count. She suffered some tragedies in life but also found sources of great love and strength. I wanted to like this book but I felt that Tew was a very one-dimensional character. I never felt that we truly got to know her. Most of the book was dedicated to the men in her life, giving the reader great details of their rise and fall in society. The book also seemed to be more of a history lesson on life during the periods that Tew lived. This information was at times very elementary and even repetitive. The reader learned more than once that John Jacob Astor died on the Titanic. Although this was a non-fiction book, I think it would have been more enjoyable as a historical fiction story and the author could have envisioned Tew's character and thoughts. The way the book came across was more of "here's the facts." Tew did this and then did this based on newspaper articles and genealogical records. I do wonder how much of the flatness of the story and the elementary discourse was due to the translation from Dutch to English. All in all, the information was interesting but the overall story just seemed to drag on with the minutia of detail on everyone and everything except Allene Tew. Perhaps the story is more interesting in its native language, but I suspect it comes across the same. This would be a good book for someone not familiar with the Gilded Age through World War I. I received this book gratis through Goodreads Giveaways.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melisa

    April pick on Amazon First Reads🙌

  3. 4 out of 5

    Solita

    Love historically accurate books - and this one is no exception! It reads like it's a story the author created but it really happened... and I think this adds to the beauty of this book! It is a very easy, captivating and wonderful book!! The story flows so well and the author made a masterpiece!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle

    Rather boring read. I was relieved to discover that the last 20 percent of the Kindle book was all Author's Notes, sources, etc, because I was really tired of this book. The subject matter was certainly interesting, but the writing was so dry and devoid of life. It was little more than a recitation of facts. I never felt a connection to Allene, nor felt that she was real. She was just words on a page, and biographies are supposed to do far more than that. It was well researched, though, and prov Rather boring read. I was relieved to discover that the last 20 percent of the Kindle book was all Author's Notes, sources, etc, because I was really tired of this book. The subject matter was certainly interesting, but the writing was so dry and devoid of life. It was little more than a recitation of facts. I never felt a connection to Allene, nor felt that she was real. She was just words on a page, and biographies are supposed to do far more than that. It was well researched, though, and provided decent historical context for the events of Allene's life, which saves it from being a 1-star read for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Willis

    I had never heard of this woman before, but the title peaked my interest. The book was very interesting and covered a period of time I enjoy reading about. It moved along well, but at times didn't give as many details as I would have liked. I thought I might have trouble because of the translation, but it was easy to follow. A solid read for those who like historical biographies.

  6. 5 out of 5

    HMS

    3.5 stars OK, so this took me a LONG time to read, but I finished 75% of it in one sitting, just sayin' Because of the timeline of her life, brief histories of certain events must be included and history is not my favorite genre. I had the beginning of high society in 1880s New York, the Spanish American war, the sinking of the Titanic, the sinking of the Lusitania, the 1918 flu epidemic, WW I, stock market crash of 1929, and WW II to get through. Although not tediously detailed, it is important 3.5 stars OK, so this took me a LONG time to read, but I finished 75% of it in one sitting, just sayin' Because of the timeline of her life, brief histories of certain events must be included and history is not my favorite genre. I had the beginning of high society in 1880s New York, the Spanish American war, the sinking of the Titanic, the sinking of the Lusitania, the 1918 flu epidemic, WW I, stock market crash of 1929, and WW II to get through. Although not tediously detailed, it is important to understand the facts of these events so that the reader may understand how the events impacted her life. Allene Tew was not wealthy when she came into this world but she was smart and beautiful and used both to her advantage. As a matter of fact she was born above the livery stables her father attended but used that to become an excellent horsewoman. At a young age she caught the eye of a very wealthy young man, they fell in love and married with two children soon to follow. Makes for a lovely romance, but of course things aren't always what they seem and that is why her third marriage is to the love of her life, one of the founding engineers of a little company named General Electric by the way. What a wonderful life they had and great adventures too, until death claimed her beloved Anson. She goes on to marry a surly German Prince (gets outta that one before she learns he's a Nazi and WW II breaks out, whew!) becomes the godmother to the Dutch Princess Beatrix and finally, a countess. IT IS ALL TRUE, that is the kicker! I read a lot of romance and if this was the plot to a book I was reading, I would laugh my ass off while throwing it onto the DNF pile. The thing that intrigued me most is that like many of her contemporaries, she bought her titles (married men who were titled and broke because of taxation (U.K.) or their countries no longer recognized said titles-Germany and Russia after WW I) but she didn't end up broke. Behind that pretty face was an excellent businesswoman who shocked and surprised many of the men in her life. IMHO, her personal philosophies are sorely needed today. Slow to start, but I enjoyed reading about this incredible woman.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book especially since I had not heard of Allene Tew.

  8. 5 out of 5

    W.

    Reviewed: April 27, 2019 NetGalley 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, An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl is the book for y Reviewed: April 27, 2019 NetGalley 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, An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl 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

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    First of all, I would like to clarify that I read this book in English and not in the edition pictured here, but I couldn't find the English edition on Goodreads. When you mention "American royalty", most of us think of the Kennedy family, especially of the 1960's when JFK and his beautiful wife Jacqueline virtually become "Camelot". Later on, their son, John Jr. would carry on the tradition of being a public figure. Truthfully, I had never heard of Allene Tew, about whom this book is written. Wha First of all, I would like to clarify that I read this book in English and not in the edition pictured here, but I couldn't find the English edition on Goodreads. When you mention "American royalty", most of us think of the Kennedy family, especially of the 1960's when JFK and his beautiful wife Jacqueline virtually become "Camelot". Later on, their son, John Jr. would carry on the tradition of being a public figure. Truthfully, I had never heard of Allene Tew, about whom this book is written. What an amazing life she had! Born in upstate New York the late 1800's to what was then referred to as a "lower class" family, Allene's life would eventually include becoming one of the richest women in the world. Beautiful at age 18, Allene impulsively married Tod Hostetter, a man she met at a dance, and who she hoped would bring some adventure into her boring life as they relocated to Pittsburgh, far away from small town life in Jamestown that she was used to. She had no clue how wealthy Tod was, having inherited a fortune from his father, nor did she know about his addiction to gambling and his mood swings. Tod's family did not welcome Allene at all. They felt he had married beneath himself and took it out on her. They did, however, have 3 children together. He died 12 years later, and Allene fled to the big city (NYC). Tod would not be her only husband. Eventually Allene wed four additional men, but there was only one she called he true love. Allene was an intelligent woman, and guarded her wealth carefully, following the stock market and making wise decisions. She invested in many overseas properties, including castles and chateaus, which were richly decorated and well taken care of. In her life, she also suffered many tragedies, including the death of her beloved son. She faced the stock market crash of 1929 head on, weathering it the best she could as her fortune slowly disappeared. She came out with far less than she started with, but was able to rebuild her fortune over the coming years, living by the words she gave as advice to all "courage all the time". The book includes some of her personal letters which were quite interesting. As to how Allene really did become an "American Princess", that story lies in being in the right place at the right time. So as not to spoil it, I will only say it involved the Russian revolution. I highly recommend this book, rich in historical detail and successful in revealing the true Allene Tew, American Princess.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    So glad I read this book!! I chose this book as my Kindle First book this month when I saw that the woman whom this biography is about had married someone from Pittsburgh, which is where I live. This biography is so interesting, the woman, Allene, is an incredible person with such an unbelievable story that had it not been a biography, I would have thought it unbelievable! It also made me see my city and my country through the eyes of the past as well as the author’s, who is from the Netherlands. So glad I read this book!! I chose this book as my Kindle First book this month when I saw that the woman whom this biography is about had married someone from Pittsburgh, which is where I live. This biography is so interesting, the woman, Allene, is an incredible person with such an unbelievable story that had it not been a biography, I would have thought it unbelievable! It also made me see my city and my country through the eyes of the past as well as the author’s, who is from the Netherlands. It was so interesting to get a different perspective on the history of the United States from these two remarkable women: the one the book is about and the author. I highly recommend!!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    Facile. This read like the kind of profile of an aristocrat you'd read in a glossy magazine—a profile which isn't perhaps openly fawning but which nonetheless derives its entire reason for existence from the presumption that wealth and titles make a person inherently interesting. Allene Tew certainly did have a life full of incident. Born the poor relation of a nouveau riche family in western New York, she went on to marry five times (twice to members of the European aristocracy), become incredi Facile. This read like the kind of profile of an aristocrat you'd read in a glossy magazine—a profile which isn't perhaps openly fawning but which nonetheless derives its entire reason for existence from the presumption that wealth and titles make a person inherently interesting. Allene Tew certainly did have a life full of incident. Born the poor relation of a nouveau riche family in western New York, she went on to marry five times (twice to members of the European aristocracy), become incredibly wealthy, see all of her children buried before her, survive the Great Depression and the World Wars, and leave behind her a will which caused a decade of legal wrangling. Does this mean that Allene merits a biography, or that her life has something to tell us about the social and political upheavals of the early twentieth century? In the right hands, perhaps. Yet the scraps of Allene's correspondence which Annejet van der Zijl scatters throughout this short biography don't convey a sense of a woman of any real charisma, wit, or intelligence. Van der Zijl stresses her fortitude, but the quotations on which she relies—repeatedly—to do so seemed mere platitudes. For the author, the real reason to write this book seems to have been that Allene was one of the godmothers of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, but this doesn't seem sufficient motivation to me. Combine that with a fairly plodding style, a near total erasure of non-white people from the history of the period (Allene's grandparents didn't settle in wild, virgin, and untouched territory, as any member of the Iroquois nation can tell you; America's wealth wasn't built on a "can do" spirit, as van der Zijl would have you believe, but on slavery, genocide, and colonialism), and apocrypha masquerading as research (no, the Victorians didn't cover the legs of pianos because they were prudish), and you get one damp squib of a book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    3.5 Stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    lynda moore

    Would have been a good Research Paper I never got to know Allene. Lots of history facts and lots of facts about homes she bought and sold. I'm an English major and found the sentences too long and found the structure cumbersome. It forced me to re-read to see who the sentence referred to. sorry not a memorable book for me

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    Allene Tew was born in 1872 to the less successful branch of the Tew family, who had a major role in the founding and growth of Jamestown, NY. She was a slightly wild child, and a real beauty, and at eighteen she impulsively married a young man she met at a local dance. That young man was Tod Hostetter, wealthy scion of a Pittsburgh family dealing in a patent medicine that was, in fact, mostly alcohol. She made herself into a successful Pittsburgh hostess, but the marriage fell apart due largely Allene Tew was born in 1872 to the less successful branch of the Tew family, who had a major role in the founding and growth of Jamestown, NY. She was a slightly wild child, and a real beauty, and at eighteen she impulsively married a young man she met at a local dance. That young man was Tod Hostetter, wealthy scion of a Pittsburgh family dealing in a patent medicine that was, in fact, mostly alcohol. She made herself into a successful Pittsburgh hostess, but the marriage fell apart due largely to Tod's gambling and general irresponsibility, and when he died twelve years later, she left Pittsburgh for New York City and never really looked back. Over the course of the Gilded Age, World War One, the Roaring Twenties, the Depression, and World War Two, she married four more times, became a leading socialite, a successful businesswoman, and a European aristocrat by marriage--first a German princess, and then a Russian countess. It was a wild, exciting life, but what stands out about it is Allene's fundamentally level, pragmatic head, that enabled her to keep going whatever reversals she hit, including taking a large hit but not being financially ruined by the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Depression. She was an interesting and apparently very likable woman, and this is a story well told. Recommended. I bought this audiobook.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lady Alexandrine

    "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 tr "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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    SheLove2Read

    This is the bio of "American Princess" Allene Tew. I'm always astounded when I read about the colorful lives of the society mavens of the late 1800s/early 1900s. Allene, literally born in the back room of a blacksmith's shop, was the only daughter of the youngest (and somewhat lackluster) son of a well-to-do northern family. She went on to have five colorful marriages, became a Princess, a Countess, and the godmother to the queen of the Netherlands. She dined with royalty, Nazis, and future lead This is the bio of "American Princess" Allene Tew. I'm always astounded when I read about the colorful lives of the society mavens of the late 1800s/early 1900s. Allene, literally born in the back room of a blacksmith's shop, was the only daughter of the youngest (and somewhat lackluster) son of a well-to-do northern family. She went on to have five colorful marriages, became a Princess, a Countess, and the godmother to the queen of the Netherlands. She dined with royalty, Nazis, and future leaders of their respective countries. But despite all the glitz and glam, she ultimately had a very sad life, losing both her children, one of her stepchildren, and her beloved third husband to various ailments. She was criticized in the press for her multiple marriages and even with her enormous wealth (for the time), shunned by the very society she aspired to but ultimately thumbed her nose at. I think the lesson here is that money won't buy happiness.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Achour

    “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 of 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. “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 of 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. Annejet van der Zijl wrote an admirable biography of an American lady she she also brillantly 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. The only disappointment was that sometimes there were so many details to the point 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 Read: June 2019 Source: NetGalley and the Publisher: AmazonCrossing

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    Recommend this to all feminist. A story of survival. Writing a summary of this book does no justice to the author. It is by far one of the best historical/biographical books I have read. The story of a woman who lives through the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, two World Wars, multiple divorces, death of loved ones & the pettiness of high society. Her head held high and her dreams untethered she moves through life with joy and optimism to becoming one of the wealthiest American women Recommend this to all feminist. A story of survival. Writing a summary of this book does no justice to the author. It is by far one of the best historical/biographical books I have read. The story of a woman who lives through the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, two World Wars, multiple divorces, death of loved ones & the pettiness of high society. Her head held high and her dreams untethered she moves through life with joy and optimism to becoming one of the wealthiest American women of her day. Today's feminist s would learn a lot from this novel as would our coddled youth today. A story of history, wealth, survival, love and loss. Something for everyone.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Woods

    Interesting woman This biography of an actual American princess who lived from the latter half of the 19th century until her death in 1955 is pretty good.....not great. There was ample newspaper headline information, but lacked the personal aspect of this woman....how she felt as from personal interviews, memoirs, diaries, etc... I didn't really get a full picture of this very interesting woman. I had never heard the name before and do thank the author for making her known to me. I love reading a Interesting woman This biography of an actual American princess who lived from the latter half of the 19th century until her death in 1955 is pretty good.....not great. There was ample newspaper headline information, but lacked the personal aspect of this woman....how she felt as from personal interviews, memoirs, diaries, etc... I didn't really get a full picture of this very interesting woman. I had never heard the name before and do thank the author for making her known to me. I love reading about women with unusual historical background. Her real story is her advantageous marriages....very fortunate of her. She did well and she seems to develop into a businesswoman, but the information here is unclear. I gave it 3.5 stars in my opinion and recommend to readers who want a historical biography about this little known lady.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan Hamilton

    This is first and foremost a biography. The woman portrayed, Allene Tew is pretty remarkable because she was determined to live, and live well. She never gave up on her dreams and when obstacles got in her way she adapted. She was a dreamer and survivor who learned to succeed despite the restrictions on women during this time. It is also a history book. Much care is given to provide a history of America from the mid-1800’s through the mid 1950’s when she died. Some reviewers have complained that This is first and foremost a biography. The woman portrayed, Allene Tew is pretty remarkable because she was determined to live, and live well. She never gave up on her dreams and when obstacles got in her way she adapted. She was a dreamer and survivor who learned to succeed despite the restrictions on women during this time. It is also a history book. Much care is given to provide a history of America from the mid-1800’s through the mid 1950’s when she died. Some reviewers have complained that this reads like a history book. In some sections it does, but the history is absolutely essential. If the reader were not familiar with the events of the Gilded Age, for example, they might not fully understand why some of the events in Allene’s life were so impactful. If you like well researched biography and history, I think you will enjoy this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    April Cote

    I was a bit disappointed with this biography. It as more like a brief history lesson on the time period, which was enjoyable, but made me forget I was supposed to be reading about a woman and the supposed exciting life she lived. I learned more about the other people in her life and seemed to only learn a little about Allene. I know she was married several times and rich. I learned nothing about her personality or anything that helped me to understand her as a person. I have it three stars becau I was a bit disappointed with this biography. It as more like a brief history lesson on the time period, which was enjoyable, but made me forget I was supposed to be reading about a woman and the supposed exciting life she lived. I learned more about the other people in her life and seemed to only learn a little about Allene. I know she was married several times and rich. I learned nothing about her personality or anything that helped me to understand her as a person. I have it three stars because i love history and the historical tidbits were interesting.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Allene Tew grew up in Jamestown, New York during the late 1800’s. Her grandfather was one of the first residents to settle in Jamestown. The Tew family prospered in their new town. They became successful entrepreneurs - all except one, who was Allene’s father. He was given a job as assistant cashier at the family’s bank. But from Allene’s modest upbringing, she rose to become a member of one of America’s most prominent families, and then to fame as an international society hostess, a princess, a Allene Tew grew up in Jamestown, New York during the late 1800’s. Her grandfather was one of the first residents to settle in Jamestown. The Tew family prospered in their new town. They became successful entrepreneurs - all except one, who was Allene’s father. He was given a job as assistant cashier at the family’s bank. But from Allene’s modest upbringing, she rose to become a member of one of America’s most prominent families, and then to fame as an international society hostess, a princess, and a world traveler. She mingled with America’s high society in the Gilded Age and then became a European princess who socialized with royalty as well as with statesmen including Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower. Her life was blessed in many ways, but she also experienced many tragedies. However, she was not one to dwell on tragedies. Her philosophy of life was to move forward with persistence and determination showing courage at all times. In this fascinating biography, author Annejet van der Zijl sheds light on the remarkable life of Allene Tew. It’s an unforgettable story, and one that brings history to life. Thank you to author Annejet van der Zijl, Amazon Crossing Publishers, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this interesting book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Gastorf

    So I got this as a deal on Audible and much like a bad car accident, I couldn't stop listening. The writing is much like a thesis for a doctoral candidate, and at the end, I found at that is essentially what it was. The author is a terrible story teller. The Princess became wealthy by marrying money because she was beautiful, twice. And then married three more times. A very flat, superficial character. I would complain about wanting a refund, but $1.99 for an audible is not worth complaining

  24. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    While I found this detailed chronicle of Allene's life to be interesting, it lost its glamour after we went through about three marriages. Allene made some cunning and lucky life choices to make her way to being a wealthy princess, and then Countess, but after a certain point, I realized I was just reading about her being married to various wealthy men, most of whom did not really treat her well or value her (lol what can you expect of 19th/early 20th century marriages!). She did try to make the While I found this detailed chronicle of Allene's life to be interesting, it lost its glamour after we went through about three marriages. Allene made some cunning and lucky life choices to make her way to being a wealthy princess, and then Countess, but after a certain point, I realized I was just reading about her being married to various wealthy men, most of whom did not really treat her well or value her (lol what can you expect of 19th/early 20th century marriages!). She did try to make the best of her situation, which is admirable and inspiring, but she still sailed through many of the harshest periods of American, and global, history rather unscathed. It was as if reading a book where some of the biggest historical events of the last two hundred years were just little bumps in the road, and it was a very odd perspective to take. I guess that is the life of the very rich, where you can keep your head above the clouds and ignore the plight of the common man. I found this to be alienating, and take a lot of the point away of reading this book. Major historical events would be introduced, but then quickly glossed over as Allene simply sailed along with her life. I just wish there was a bit more depth to this book. While the story of Allene, and how she managed to claw her way up in society, is interesting, I'm not sure it merited an entire book. I kept looking for some message or event of significance, but I was left with Allene's rather naïve statements of optimism that she wrote in many letters to friends and family. I was just left wanting more...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angela McVay

    This was a very well researched book, and it seemed to be more of a history lesson during her lifespan more than Allene’s personal story. I listened to this one on audio on my work commute, and I think I would have absorbed more having read it instead. Allene was married 5 times throughout the course of her life and married very wealthy men. I was bothered by how many millions of dollars that was wasted by some of her husbands and her step-son. It’s just hard to fathom that kind of wealth and wa This was a very well researched book, and it seemed to be more of a history lesson during her lifespan more than Allene’s personal story. I listened to this one on audio on my work commute, and I think I would have absorbed more having read it instead. Allene was married 5 times throughout the course of her life and married very wealthy men. I was bothered by how many millions of dollars that was wasted by some of her husbands and her step-son. It’s just hard to fathom that kind of wealth and waste.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Holly Minion

    This was quite the story of a girl who came from humble beginnings to become the godmother to the queen of the Netherlands, a millionaire, a princess, and, eventually, a countess. I had never heard of her before getting this book as a Prime First read one month. It was well-researched. I enjoy books about obscure people from history and this one didn't disappoint.

  27. 4 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    2.5 stars Allene Tew was born in 1872 and lived till the mid-1900s. In that time, she married five times, had three children (who all died fairly young – one as a toddler, the other two were adults, but young), and became incredibly rich. She became a “princess” of the title when she married her… 4th (??) husband, a prince in Germany (??). So, I think I just don’t tend to find rich people who don’t do a whole lot all that interesting. Much of the book focused on the people around her (which I’ve 2.5 stars Allene Tew was born in 1872 and lived till the mid-1900s. In that time, she married five times, had three children (who all died fairly young – one as a toddler, the other two were adults, but young), and became incredibly rich. She became a “princess” of the title when she married her… 4th (??) husband, a prince in Germany (??). So, I think I just don’t tend to find rich people who don’t do a whole lot all that interesting. Much of the book focused on the people around her (which I’ve found with other biographies of historical women, as well), and because she married so many times, there were a lot of different people. After a while I had trouble keeping them all straight. I think the section on WWI was the most interesting to me, and maybe the rise of Hitler and WWII, as well. But that was more interest in the historical times than interest in Allene, herself.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...

    I picked this one up for free on Amazon World Book Day, 2019. I am glad it was free because I found it disappointing for many reasons. First, I am trying to read books from every country in the world, and want to learn something of the history or culture of the country. Although this author is from the Netherlands, the books is set in NYC, USA, and I will not be using it for my challenge. But, more importantly, I found the book a bit dull, and its focus was on those who surrounded Allene Tew rath I picked this one up for free on Amazon World Book Day, 2019. I am glad it was free because I found it disappointing for many reasons. First, I am trying to read books from every country in the world, and want to learn something of the history or culture of the country. Although this author is from the Netherlands, the books is set in NYC, USA, and I will not be using it for my challenge. But, more importantly, I found the book a bit dull, and its focus was on those who surrounded Allene Tew rather than on Tew herself. In fact the book felt a bit like a research paper, or a profile in a magazine. At times I likened it to a celebrity biography in Star magazine. It focused so heavily on the grand life of Ms. Tew and those whom she knew. I do not find a person interesting simply because of their status in life. And I didn’t find Ms. Tew to be at all intriguing. This may be because she wasn’t or it may be because the author failed to convey it. I had never heard of Ms. Tew, so I cannot speak to which of these is true. I was also very disappointed in the white-washing of this era of history. No, America’s wealth didn’t come merely as a result of their fortitude, spirit or work-ethic. It was built on the backs of African Slaves, and Native American genocide. I feel that a biography is only as good as it is honest and this perspective was expected a half a century ago, but in today’s world we should seek more honesty. ******* You can find me on my Facebook book blog: https://www.facebook.com/Kelly-Hunsak... and on Bookstagram: https://www.instagram.com/kelly_hunsa...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    All of the World Book Day titles get me excited every year, but this one was already on my radar as one I wanted to read, so this is the one I'm most eager to start. Someday I will go back and shelve all the former World Book Day titles so that I can find them, too. But yay! Nine diverse reads to fatten up my Kindle! *** Biography isn't usually my cuppa. I don't think that, to pick an example at random, Hitler's life story tells us how to prevent the rise of duly-elected monsters who hold themselves All of the World Book Day titles get me excited every year, but this one was already on my radar as one I wanted to read, so this is the one I'm most eager to start. Someday I will go back and shelve all the former World Book Day titles so that I can find them, too. But yay! Nine diverse reads to fatten up my Kindle! *** Biography isn't usually my cuppa. I don't think that, to pick an example at random, Hitler's life story tells us how to prevent the rise of duly-elected monsters who hold themselves above the law and who marginalize and demonize groups of people, and for whom scapegoating and incitement to violence is a substitute for productive governance. What we need to know is how to prevent 53% of the voters from legitimizing that kind of bullshit. But this book isn't like that. This is the story of a woman who managed to live through very interesting times indeed. And who, despite enduring considerable losses, had the resilience to keep starting over. Charmingly, Allene Tew who was raised from being a poor relation to a very wealthy woman by her pretty face went on to be a fairy godmother to others, becoming a literal godmother to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Highly recommended as just a fascinating swathe of history. Personal copy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the locations in the novel A book about Allene Tew – the very epitome of “American royalty” even though you might think that title still belongs with the Kennedy family. That famous family of course had their own problems which are well documented, but I admit to never having heard of Allene Tew. The book and story intrigued me however as real figures from history often do, and when their stories are fictionalised, even more so. There’s a good mix of fact and fiction here. I think most of it Visit the locations in the novel A book about Allene Tew – the very epitome of “American royalty” even though you might think that title still belongs with the Kennedy family. That famous family of course had their own problems which are well documented, but I admit to never having heard of Allene Tew. The book and story intrigued me however as real figures from history often do, and when their stories are fictionalised, even more so. There’s a good mix of fact and fiction here. I think most of it is actually true (judging by the author notes and extensive research documents at the end.) She went through quite a few marriages and had a few stories to tell on her way to becoming this American Princess though! The stories get so amazing and fanciful in parts that you have to remind yourself that this is a true story and real person! She moves around the country from Jamestown and then eventually to the big city of New York . Aah New York, that glitzy place with golden promises…. It was all a question of who you married and when, in those days it would seem. Well, at least for the monnied classes. She was no fool however, blindly following her husbands around. She guarded her wealth carefully and plotted her next move with the calmness of a chess player quite frankly. This is one story however that could have the tagline – Money does not buy happiness. Her story also includes momentous events such as the sinking of the Titanic, the stock market crash of 1929, the world wars and even the Russian revolution. It’s a story which includes a lot packed into a short life and relatively short book at less than 200 pages! Some of that was interestingly taken up with photos and personal letters. I did think the story suffered in that sense as some sections could have been explained more and the various characters more fleshed out, but the story is good however long in the end. Fascinating mix of fact and fiction

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