I am thrilled to have debut author Rebecca Behrens here on the blog for a guest post about her new middle grade book, When Audrey Met Alice.
First Daughter Audrey
Rhodes is convinced that living in the White House is like being
permanently grounded. Except with better security. What good is having
your own bowling alley if you don’t have anyone to play with?
the Secret Service cancels the party she'd spent forever planning,
Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally
friendless--until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. Alice
was a White House wild child, and her diary tells all about her
outrageous turn-of-the-century exploits, like shocking State visitors
with her pet snake and racking up speeding tickets in her runabout.
Audrey starts asking herself: What Would Alice Do? The former First
Daughter’s outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun .
. . and get her into more trouble than she can handle!
Rebecca is here today to talk about the audacious Alice Roosevelt, the inspiration for When Audrey Met Alice. I asked Rebecca, since this is a food and travel blog as well as a book blog, if Alice were First Daughter today, what would be some of her favorite Washington, D.C. haunts?
Take it away Rebecca!
Alice Roosevelt—both the real person and the character in my book, When Audrey Met Alice—was “simply mad for travel,” as the fictional Alice wrote in a diary entry on setting sail for Cuba. Adventurous Alice had a great time on that trip: going to parties and teas, visiting schools, betting on jai alai games, and stuffing herself with Cuban delicacies. Later in the book, she gets excited about a chance to visit New Orleans and stay Avery Island, the famous home of Tabasco sauce.
However, Alice found plenty of ways to have adventures at home in turn-of-the-century Washington, DC, too. She’d have even more fun today in DC—and these would be some of her favorite places and activities:
Driving: Alice loved to zip around in her red runabout, racking up speeding tickets galore. Today she could cruise along the Rock Creek Parkway for a spin in town (I imagine she’d toot her horn as she passed under the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge), but rush-hour traffic might make it hard for Alice to drive as fast as she liked. Perhaps she’d avoid Beltway traffic altogether by taking a daytrip to the Skyline Drive, a National Scenic Byway that runs through the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. It would be a great escape during election season, when the drive shows off stunning fall foliage. Of course, the speed limit is 35 miles per hour. We can only hope that Alice would heed that.
Restaurants: Alice was an early foodie, so she’d love the dining DC offers today. From chili and fries at Ben’s Chili Bowl to Ethiopian injera and honey wine at Lalibela, there would be something for her every craving. Alice would have no trouble finding the food of her travels back at home, too. For more Cuban food, she could head to Mi Cuba Café in Columbia Heights for ropa vieja and a guava shake. In 1905, Alice Roosevelt accompanied Taft’s diplomatic trip to Asia, visiting Hawaii, the Philippines, China, Japan, and Korea. (She had a great time and did not disappoint with her own antics, which included watching a Sumo match, wearing a kimono—and jumping into a ship’s swimming pool fully clothed.) I think she’d be very happy with her options for Asian cuisine in DC today; in particular, she’d love the show at a "hibachi-style" Teppanyaki restaurant. Alice probably would try to get the chef to teach her the impressive knife skills on display; after all, she did cut her own wedding cake with a sword.
Dancing: Alice loved to dance, particularly the hootchy-kootchy, which was an early Western-coined name for belly dance. She’d enjoy checking out dance performances at the Kennedy Center today, and I also think she’d love to participate in some of the public dance programs available in DC, like Dance in the Circle, a dance festival sometimes held right in the middle of Dupont Circle. I can imagine Alice sneaking out of the White House to attend incognito—and stealing the show with her moves.
The Smithsonian: Alice wasn’t just hungry for experiences but for information, too. The Smithsonian Institute existed well before her time (the famous Castle building was constructed in the mid-1800s), but Alice would still love exploring all that the Institute’s museums have to offer today. In particular, I think she’d be fascinated by the National Air and Space Museum. After all, it was while Alice was living in the White House (in 1903) that the Wright Brothers achieved the first flight. And of course Alice would visit the National Zoo, considering the menagerie that lived with her in the Roosevelt White House. She’d be a huge fan of Bao Bao the baby panda (and probably would scheme about ways to get a panda cub back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).
When Audrey Met Alice hits bookstores on February 4th from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.
Pre-order your copy today.
Read my review of When Audrey Met Alice.