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An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  24,107 ratings  ·  1,296 reviews
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
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Published May 1st 2018 by Brilliance Audio (first published November 17th 2015)
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Thirze Because this American became the godmother of the queen of the Netherlands. She discovered Allene Tew when she was writing her book "Bernhard" about…moreBecause this American became the godmother of the queen of the Netherlands. She discovered Allene Tew when she was writing her book "Bernhard" about the husband of the queen, and was intrigued why this American woman was part of the Dutch royal family.(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  24,107 ratings  ·  1,296 reviews

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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. ...more
Apr 01, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
April pick on Amazon First Reads ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
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 ...more
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.
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
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book especially since I had not heard of Allene Tew.
Waleska 'Wally'
Reviewed: April 27, 2019

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
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
3.5 Stars
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.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
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
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

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 ...more
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 ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rec, e-books
“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.
Lis Carey
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Cindy Woods
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Melissa Gastorf
Sep 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Angela McVay
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Holly Minion
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Susan Hamilton
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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
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

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
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
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 ...more
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Play Book Tag: An American Princess / Annejet van der Zijl. 2.5 stars 1 10 Jun 28, 2019 01:45PM  
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Book Club Questions 2 16 Apr 27, 2019 01:02PM  
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Annejet van der Zijl is a Dutch writer. Born in 1962, she studied mass communication at the UVA in Amsterdam and did a MA International Journalism at City University in London. She worked in magazine journalism until 2000, meanwhile publishing her first book Jagtlust, about a ramshackle villa that in the sixties was a meeting place for many artists and poets. Annejet van der Zijl lives in ...more
“Just as successful in work and marriage was Harvey, William Tew’s oldest son. After working for his father in the family business for seventeen years, in 1870 Harvey established a rubber factory with his brother- in- law Benjamin F. Goodrich. The story goes that the pair came up with the idea after large fires swept through Jamestown, which still consisted mainly of wooden buildings, sometimes wiping out entire neighborhoods. In winter, the fire brigade was repeatedly rendered powerless when the water froze in its leather hoses. The discovery that water stayed liquid in rubber hoses made the fortunes of Harvey and his brother- in- law and formed the basis of a company that would grow into one of the world’s largest tire producers.” 9 likes
“And if there was one thing that was truly American, it was the belief that it was always possible to start again.” 8 likes
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