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Novel set in New York – An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl

  • Submitted: 4th July 2019

A Golden Age tale of American Princess Allene Tew

Novel set in New York – An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl – Allene Tew is an interesting character straight from the real life history books. She lived in the late 19th century and came from a pioneering family but made it her mission to marry into a higher social status.

More marriages were to follow as Allene climbed her way to the top of the social ladder, moving from ‘ just money’ to status when she married a German Prince ….

BookTrail Travel to the locations in An American Princess

Novel set in New York - An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl

BookTrail Travel to the locations in An American Princess




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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