Book Buzz: An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annejet van der Zijl

A Wall Street Journal and Amazon Charts bestseller.



#BookBuzz: Two-time Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel names An American Princess as one of her favorite books of the year: “light and gracefully written, it dances through a century of history…” (The Guardian)


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.



“Set against the tumultuous history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this biography is certainly entertaining, but it is also a fascinating story about a remarkable woman’s indomitable spirit and will to survive. A concise, thoughtful, and well-researched biography.” Kirkus Reviews
“Readers will love this captivating true story of triumph, and the pursuit of the American Dream.” SheReads
“What could I choose, but Diarmaid MacCulloch’s masterly Thomas Cromwell: A Life, published by Allen Lane? For those less Tudor, An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl (AmazonCrossing, trans. Michele Hutchinson) is the story of Allene Tew, a small-town banker’s daughter five times wed, to gamblers, stockbrokers, finally royals. Light and gracefully written, it dances through a century of history, costing out the American dream like a feminine complement to the National Theatre’s absorbing Lehman Trilogy.” —Hilary Mantel, from the Guardian’s “Best Books of 2018”


An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annejet van der Zijl

ISBN 9781503951839

221 Pages

Please click here to order: Order from Amazon




Annejet van der Zijl is one of the best-known and most widely read literary nonfiction writers in the Netherlands. She has written biographies of Dutch children’s author Annie M. G. Schmidt; Prince Bernhard, the husband of former Dutch queen Juliana; and Gerard Heineken, founder of the famous beer empire; as well as other works. Her nonfiction has been awarded the M. J. Brusse Prize for the best work of journalism and has been nominated for the Golden Owl and the AKO Literary Prize. An American Princess spent more than fifteen weeks at the top of the national bestseller list in the Netherlands and was short-listed for the Libris History Prize. In 2012, she was awarded the Golden Quill for her entire oeuvre.

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