De Amerikaanse prinses Book reviews


Author(s): Annejet van der ZijlDownload  


Op 13 april 1927 voer Allene Tew met de Mauretania de haven van New York uit. Ze liet een leven achter zich waarin ze alles had bereikt waar ze als plattelandsmeisje van had gedroomd – aanzien, fortuin, moederschap, haar grote liefde. En ze was het ook bijna allemaal weer kwijtgeraakt. ‘De rijkste en verdrietigste weduwe van de stad’, zoals Allene door societyrubrieken werd genoemd, had die dag echter ook nog veel vóór zich, zoals een nieuw gezin en een toekomst als officiële prinses, als Russische gravin en als peetmoeder van de latere koningin Beatrix.De Amerikaanse prinses is een reconstructie van een weids en fascinerend leven, dat zich afspeelt tegen het decor van Amerika en Europa, de victoriaanse en de moderne tijd, de industriële en Russische revolutie en de twee wereldoorlogen. Maar het is bovenal het persoonlijke verhaal van een uitzonderlijke vrouw die de moed had om, tot het bittere eind, haar eigen, onnavolgbare weg te gaan.

Some Reviews: 1527 in

Isabella May

Isabella May rated it     

Fascinating and engaging

This is not my usual genre but the writing and fabulous translation pulled me in from page 1. I had never heard of Allene Tew, but what a woman and what a life she lived with utter resilience and a perpetual sense of wonder, focus, and acceptance. The only reason this doesn’t score a 5 for me is the lack of a happy ever after. Ridiculous and picky, I know. This is historical fiction told in a biographical style. It is based on fact! But I SO wanted that uplifting ending…


LaRae rated it     

This book was really a short history of the Gilded Age in America, which part I really enjoyed. The history and the sheer opulence and excess were fascinating to read about. I found Allene Tew’s actual life pretty interesting as well, but that was secondary for me.

Lynelle Clark

Lynelle Clark rated it      

This is a remarkable story that survived so much heartache that I struggled to put it down. The author’s flawless writing took you to the heart of each incident that impacted the world but mostly Allene Tew.

Allene Tew’s indeed had many lives, the one the stepping stone for the next as she grew older and wiser through each. She survived the Spanish fly, two world wars, five husbands and manoeuvred through the great depression with grace and determination few people did.
By the end of her life, she had lived it all and seen it all. The grave a sad companion which made her stronger as she laid to rest those she loved the most and in the end, she passed away with the oceanview as her only companion.

Of course, it helped to have an unlimited bank account but with it, she gave back in abundance. She believed to help those less fortunate while she loved the beauty of life. It could be seen through her many travels, her art collections and the houses she loved so much.

What I really enjoyed about this book was how the author kept the history relevant. A condensed version of the turmoil and heartache the depression years had done, the war and aftereffects and how it impacted each country and its people. As if she tried to lift the veil in a gentle yet emphatic manner.
Truly an inspiring story.

Kaethe Douglas

Kaethe Douglas rated it     

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


June rated it     

If you’ve ever wondered whether Edith Wharton and Henry James were exaggerating about Old New York society–they weren’t. This extremely well-researched book tells the life story of a woman whose life story seems beyond belief and would fit in the pages of a turn-of-the-century novel. Allene Tew survived and even prevailed through circumstances that would have broken many others. As others have noted, it is hard to truly feel close to her character, as we don’t get a lot of direct dialogue from her, just phrases here and there from books she wrote. Still, I found this an interesting perspective on a time period I enjoy reading about.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a digital ARC.


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