De Amerikaanse Prinses
written by Annejet van der Zijl, published by Querido
genre literary nonfiction, 280 pages
I picked this book up because…
During an interview on the Dutch television last year, Mrs. Van der Zijl – one the most famous authors of literary nonfiction in the Netherlands – mentioned that she just finished writing this book. She told the presenter how she, like most people, always is searching for something. How the writing of her books, the searching for the stories, keeps bringing adventures, new worlds and beauty into her life. This interview made me curious to read her newest work, a book about the amazing life of a beautiful woman.
The story in short
Being the first biography I’ve ever read, ‘De Amerikaanse Prinses’ (the American Princess) totally blew me away. Allene Tew (1872-1955) was a woman who used her limitations as a motivation to give shape to her own life and managed to live the lives of many people in one single lifetime.
Growing up in Jamestown as a descendant of the first settlers in America, Allene was raised in an entrepreneurial environment. This childhood in combination with her good looks and adventurous character, were all that was needed for a life like no other.
Reading her story, we not only get to know a lot about Allene, her family, her friends and the social scenes she was being a part of. The book also tells us a lot about our history and gives an overview of the world as it was during Allenes life; the First and Second World War influencing daily life in both Europe and America, industrial revolutions, technical discoveries and developments and social changes making enormous differences to the lives of the people during the different eras of Allene’s life.
An informative and fascinating biography that tells us the story of a woman that was decades ahead of her time. A woman who despite many disappointments, sadness and difficulties, never let go of her dreams and ambitions. A strong and independent woman who, thanks to her resilience and perseverance, never lost courage and always kept moving on. A woman who can still be an example for women today!
The book was completed with pictures of Allene and her family during different life stages.
I finished this book because…
Reading this book was an absolute pleasure. Not only is Allene Tew’s life very intriguing, the way it was written, with all the background information, was as beautifully as the story itself. It could easily have been an overkill of information, a complex and exhausting book to read, but it was not like that at all. As soon as you start reading this book, you just want to know what is going to happen, how the life of this woman evolves, how she deals with the difficulties that come her way and how she keeps standing strong, no matter what.
“En misschien was dat wel Allenes grootste prestatie – meer nog dan haar rijkdom, haar titels, haar vele huizen en haar imponerende gastenboek. Dat ze, wat ze allemaal ook had meegemaakt en doorstaan, zich nooit het vermogen had laten afpakken om van het leven te genieten en er dankbaar voor te zijn.” – Annejet van der Zijl
“And maybe that was Allenes biggest achievement – even more than her wealth, her titels, her many houses and her imposing guestbook. That she, despite what she had experienced and endured, had never lost the ability to enjoy her life and be grateful for it.” – Annejet van der Zijl