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An Uncommon Woman - The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm Paperback – November 13, 1997


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An Uncommon Woman - The Empress Frederick: Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm + Victoria's Daughters + Born to Rule: Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (November 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684842165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684842165
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Queen Victoria of England has been the subject of several fine biographies; however, her equally interesting eldest child and favorite daughter, "Vicky," whose tragic fate it was to be the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm, who led the Germans against England in World War I, has not received the level of attention accorded her mother. Pakula's (The Last Romantic, LJ 2/1/85) readable biography, based in large part on Vicky's correspondence with her mother as well as other primary sources, provides an intimate view of a quintessentially "Victorian" mother-daughter relationship and a fascinating perspective on a period and personages more often viewed through the impersonal lens of diplomatic and political history. Pakula has succeeded well in capturing an immensely interesting period and place in history through the story of a woman's life. History buffs will enjoy the period detail; academics will appreciate its different perspective on real personages and events.?Barbara Walden, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Pakula, author of the brilliant biography of Queen Marie of Romania, The Last Romantic (1985), proffers a definitive biography of a historical figure well deserving of such a monumental treatment. Her new subject possessed impeccable credentials in the scheme of nineteenth-century European royalty: Princess Royal of Britain, then crown princess of Prussia, and finally German empress. Vicky, as she was called in the family, was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and was also easily the cleverest of their vast brood. Her idealistic father arranged her marriage to the heir of the Prussian throne to spread liberal ideas to that reactionary country. The marriage went off as planned, and Vicky loved her handsome prince, Fritz, and he vice versa; they quickly grew to be partners in liberalism. But Vicky was never able to truly shake the foundations of the conservative Prussian monarchy, mainly because of Reich chancellor Prince Bismarck, her nemesis, but also because her husband was too ill and reigned too briefly (88 days) to make real changes. Adding injury to insult, her son, the Kaiser Bill we fought in World War I, reversed the little good Vicky had done in bringing notions of constitutionalism to an autocratic regime by trying to pretend his mother had never existed! Pakula plunges the reader deeply into European politics, but the water is not only fine, it is exhilarating. Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Hannah Pakula attended Wellesley College, the Sorbonne and Southern Methodist University. She is a book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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The book is very well organized.
Xoe Li Lu
Vicky, Princess Royal of Great Britain and Empress Frederick of Germany, was raised by her parents Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with a specific purpose.
John D. Cofield
This book is an amazing mixture of biography, political history and peeks inside the royal houses of 19th century Europe.
Erich Mopsmeister

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Xoe Li Lu VINE VOICE on February 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Hannah Pakula's fascinating portrayal of the life of Vicky, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, wife of Kaiser Frederick and mother of Kaiser Wilhelm, provides insight on a woman largely ignored in history. Surrounded by historical luminaries, Vicky's often unhappy and frustrating life was glanced over by biographers and history books until Ms. Pakula took up her cause - and we are lucky she did. Pakula's exhaustive and meticulous research and excellent biographical abilities have created an intriguing portrait of a women maltreated by just about everyone - from her domineering mother and jealous mother-in-law, to her ungrateful children, to the domineering Otto von Bismarck. Vicky somehow found the strength to overcome all of the strong personalities in her life and forge a path for herself that centered on charity work and supporting her kind but long-suffering husband, Crown Prince (and later, for a brief time, Kaiser) Friedrich.
Vicky's intelligence is legendary, and she often saw political situations more clearly than those in power did. Her constant correspondence with her mother, which is heavily excerpted by Pakula, provides fascinating insight to the Princess' attributes and weaknesses. It also makes me thankful that I was not a daughter of Queen Victoria - the criticism and guilt the monarch heaped on her eldest daughter is criminal. But I suppose that dealing with her abusive mother helped steel Vicky for the horrific behavior of her children, particularly that of her two eldest - Charlotte and the future Kaiser Wilhelm.
Ms. Pakula infuses "An Uncommon Woman" with large doses of well-researched historical and political information, which helps to orient the reader and affords insight on the true scope of the situations Vicky dealt with in her daily life.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Vicky, Princess Royal of Great Britain and Empress Frederick of Germany, was raised by her parents Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with a specific purpose. She was to be the instrument by which the divided Germany of her youth was to be unified and remade in the image of Britain, a constitutional monarchy with leanings towards liberal democracy. Vicky did her best to accomplish this, and to a point she succeeded. She was a great and positive influence on her husband Frederick (Fritz) and helped wean him away from the Prussian militarism in which he had been raised. Unfortunately, Vicky was unable to overcome the influence of Otto von Bismarck on her father in law Kaiser William I. Bismarck united Germany, but as an absolute monarchy with only a travesty of representative government. More tragic was Vicky's failure to influence her son and Fritz's heir, the future Kaiser William II. When "Willy" came to the throne after Fritz's tragic death in 1888, he inexorably led Germany down the road to World War I.
Since Vicky failed, why read her story? Because she was a brilliant, brave, charming, stubborn woman dedicated to her principles. She loved her family and both her countries with all her heart. Today she should be remembered as a woman who could have changed so much history for the better had she only had the chance.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By MandysRoyalty on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
You will feel great sympathy towards Vicky, the Empress Frederick, who was an unfortunate hostage to the intrigues of the German court. Sympathy will soon give way to awe at her courage and determination to do her best while having to perform the impossible: being all things to all people.

Vicky was seen as the catalyst for change in Germany. Her parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert did not like the autocratic, militaristic way in which Emperor Wilhelm I was running Prussia. Instead, they visualized a united German nation with a government much like that of England. Their plan was to sow seeds of liberalism and constitutional monarchy through their daughter and her marriage to Wilhelm's son, Prince Frederick (Fritz). In preparation for the eventual match, Vicky was schooled in politics and German life by Prince Albert. Eventually, she and Fritz would be Emperor and Empress of Prussia, and could bring about German unity.

Little did Vicky know that upon arriving in Berlin, she was at a disadvantage from the start.

As the daughter of Queen Victoria, she was encouraged to retain her Englishness yet was expected to be a Prussian wife and princess. Her efforts to raise her eldest son Willy as Prince Albert had raised her backfired. Her tendency to over-criticize (a trait passed on from Victoria) turned the young Wilhelm away, and he grew up under his thoroughly Prussian grandfather Wilhelm. Otto von Bismarck had seen his own chance to manipulate the future emperor, and along with the groveling royal court, Willy was turned into a bombastic power fanatic.

Her relationship with Fritz was not seen as loving, but as an English princess scheming to Anglicize the House of Hohenzollern.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Erich Mopsmeister on April 19, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an amazing mixture of biography, political history and peeks inside the royal houses of 19th century Europe. The story of Vickie is the premise of this detailed book but the author has made it so much more than that. "An Uncommon Woman" not only taught me about the tragic life of The Empress Frederick but also presented the story of the German people and creation of The German Empire in such a clear, concise and detailed manner that for the first time ever, German history actually makes sense to me.
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