An Uncommon Woman – The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm – by Hannah Pakula – independent book review – Biography

For lovers of history, this is an exceptional biography that feels like a novel. Readable, thorough and very well researched and documented. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.

The Empress was certainly a woman way ahead of her time: educated, thoughtful, and, despite the expected role of women at her time, deeply involved in the world of international politics.

uncommonwomanIn Pakula’s biography, we learn about the:
• Deep lifelong influence of Princess Victoria‘s (Vicky) connection with her father, Prince Albert, since both were so very much alike in intelligence, character and outlook.
• More challenging relationship between Vicky and her domineering, self-absorbed mother, Queen Victoria.
• Loving and romantic relationship with her husband, Germany’s Friedrich III.
• Her evolving relationships with all her children, including the very interesting and troubled one with the future, demented Kaiser Wilhelm II, who is quite a character.
• Deeply suspicious court of Prussia where anti-English feelings ran deep and often centered on Vicky.
• Lifelong battle she fought alongside her husband to move Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s Prussia toward a more constitutional monarchy and away from the oppressive, warlike stance that was so deeply ingrained in the country’s identity.

The most enjoyable part of this book for me was reading the excerpts from the hundreds of letters between Vicky and her mother about everything from politics, to childrearing, to arranging royal matches throughout Europe.

This is a biography that does an excellent job documenting both the public and personal sides of Vicky’s life and her influence in Germany during a 40+ year period during the 1800s. It’s also a fascinating look at the origins of many of the events and alliances in Europe that eventually culminate in the disaster of World War I.

Author Hannah Pakula
More about the author, Hannah Pakula.