White House Wild Child
Shelley Fraser Mickle, author
Shelley Fraser Mickle is an award-winning novelist whose first novel, The Queen of October, was a New York Times Notable Book and selected by Library Journal as one of the ten best adult books suitable for young adults. Her novel Replacing Dad won an America's Writers Award in Chicago and was adapted for film. From 2000 to 2006 she was a commentator for National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." Her husband trained under the Brigham hospital surgeons who are the focus of her 2020 nonfiction title, Borrowing Life.
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Award-winning author Mickle (Borrowing Life, 2020) brings the early life of Alice Roosevelt to readers. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, was a powerful, colorful figure who shared the limelight and public eye with her more famed father. Victorian sensibilities weren’t something that constrained Alice; they were mere suggestions she chose to ignore, much to the chagrin of immediate family. Like many members of the Roosevelt family, Alice was a larger-than-life character determined to forge her own path. However, this isn’t just a biography of Alice’s derring-do. The complicated ties with her father, stepmother, aunt, and the mother who died shortly after her birth are brought vividly to life, giving eager readers of history, biography, and women’s history fascinating insight into the Roosevelt family’s personal relationships. Though some of Alice’s adult life is discussed, the majority of the text focuses on her childhood and teenage years, telling the story of how family, politics, personal tragedy, and Victorian society shaped the bold woman who broke all the rules.
Until her death at age 96, Alice Roosevelt (1884–1980) was called the Other Washington Monument. Award-winning novelist Mickle (The Queen of October) presents a vivid account of Roosevelt’s life and her quest for unconditional love from her father, Theodore Roosevelt. This book shows that she never attained it. Theodore’s mother died on the same day as his wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, which occurred just two days after she gave birth to their daughter, her namesake. Infant Alice was put in the care of his sister. When Roosevelt remarried, he and his second wife brought Alice to their home in Cove Neck, NY. When Roosevelt became president, Alice, now 17, became known for her antics. For example, her purse often contained a dagger, a nonpoisonous snake, and the Constitution, and she finally got her father’s attention by doing such things as smoking on the roof of the White House after he told her she couldn’t smoke under it. She later married congressman Nicholas Longworth; both were unfaithful. Her affair with Sen. William Borah produced a daughter, Paulina, whom Longworth doted on. Mickle also covers Paulina’s life, early death, and Roosevelt’s subsequent custody of her granddaughter. VERDICT A highly recommended exploration of Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s life.
Page count: 256
6 x 9