Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why do presidents always have daughters?

Never thought about this till recently, but it seems like American Presidents (at least recently) tend to have daughters. Obama: two daughters. George W. Bush: two daughters. Bill Clinton: one daughter. Then there were four presidents with sons and daughters, back to Nixon with two daughters and Lyndon Johnson with two daughters, as well. Just random trivia that I discovered while reading When Audrey Met Alice, a charming book about a fictional 13 year old daughter of a future Madame President (more random trivia: a female President's husband is called the First Gentleman).

This book was so much fun. All the ins and outs and quirks of the White House; all the embarrassing situations that Audrey gets herself into that get national publicity of course; her nickname (Audi)... and the fictional diary of Alice Roosevelt that Audrey discovers hidden in the White House, written in 1902-1903 when Alice was also adjusting to living in the White House and adjusting to the public spotlight. Alice Roosevelt was a hoot!

Her father, Teddy Roosevelt, says of her "I can either run the country or I can control Alice, but I can't possibly do both."

It's a bit presumptuous to write a fictional diary of a real person, attributing made-up thoughts and words and personality and perspective of events (did Alice really say "I've found the secret to eternal youth, and it's arrested development"? Did she really carry a pet snake around in her purse?) But I cannot resist contemporary storylines mixed with historical ones, and Alice's voice felt so spot-on for a high society turn of the century tomboy. And her story complimented Audrey's story to a T.
As a child, I begged him [her father, Teddy Roosevelt], "let me loose in  your library." Now I begged him to let me loose in the world. 
I can totally believe that Alice carried a copy of the Constitution around in her purse, too.

I loved all the history and ambience of Roosevelt's era (it made me crave more! wish Teddy had shown up more), and I loved every occasion the fictional female president was mentioned (not enough). There's one scene with Audrey, Quentin and the President that cracked me up. Quentin is Audrey's crush, and the complications of trying to have a boyfriend with Secret Service agents lurking about was touched upon - I wished there'd been more of that, actually. And more of Quentin, who won me over with his musical inclinations and using a Sharpie to write 'Here comes Treble' on the edge of his shoe... adorkable.

I think I love this kind of book (contemporary/historical mix) even more than traditional historical fiction (without a contemporary blend). But the advantage of traditional historical is you get totally immersed in another time. Which kind of historical do you like best?

4 comments:

  1. I'm reading this right now! And yes, although I didn't think about it, you're right. There's been a lack of First Sons recently. I, too, am enjoying the history/contemporary mix.

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  2. I've had this on my list for awhile. It is interesting how many first daughters there have been (even the Gores as VPs had two daughters).

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  3. I want to read this--thanks for the heads-up. I've read some on Alice in the past and was always interested in her antics. One thing I read about her was that, in her older years, she had a needlepoint pillow on her couch that read, "If you can't say anything nice about someone...sit next to me." (!) Sounds like this author has her pegged pretty good :-) As for historicals, I tend toward traditional ones although I really liked Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution...

    I

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  4. Interesting observation about daughters of presidents, never thought about it before but now that you point it out it is a weird phenomenon.

    The diary of Alice Roosevelt sounds like it would have made a good book on its own.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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