Five women who shared one of the most extraordinary and privileged sisterhoods of all time...
Vicky, Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice were historically unique sisters, born to a sovereign who ruled over a quarter of the earth's people and who gave her name to an era: Queen Victoria. Two of these princesses would themselves produce children of immense consequence. All five would face the social restrictions and familial machinations borne by ninetheenth-century women of far less exalted class.
Researched at the houses and palaces of its five subjects-- in London, Scotland, Berlin, Darmstadt, and Ottawa-- Victoria's Daughters examines a generation of royal women who were dominated by their mother, married off as much for political advantage as for love, and passed over entirely when their brother Bertie ascended to the throne. Packard, an experienced biographer whose last book chronicled Victoria's final days, provides valuable insights into their complex, oft-tragic lives as scions of Europe's most influential dynasty, and daughters of their own very troubled times.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had nine children�five of them daughters�and 40 grandchildren. In this engaging group biography, Packard (Farewell in Splendor) writes about scores of lives and several generations of this fecund couple's progeny�which is why the book is best devoured in small bites and why the comprehensive list of "Principal Characters" is indispensable. As a family, the V&As make for a story as dramatic as any fictional saga, but Packard also shows real sympathy and affection for these royal individuals, including the vastly complicated Queen Victoria herself. Packard combed the daily correspondence the sovereign required of her eldest daughter, Vicky, as well as letters, journals, memoirs and biographies of the other principals involved. In addition, his loving (or disparaging) descriptions of the five daughters' residences in London, Argyll, Berlin, Darmstadt and Ottowa reflect his eager research. History was no mere backdrop to these lives: Vicky's eldest child, Willy, grew up to become Kaiser Wilhelm II, to her great despair, and Alice's daughter Alexandra married Tsar Nicholas II. Packard's narrative is accessible, unpretentious and solidly written (except for one particularly bad pun on a widow's peak). He manages to treat historical events succinctly while emphasizing the princesses' individual lives and family relationships, their talents in music and art, their patronage of schools and hospitals and their pioneering advocacy of women's education and employment. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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St. Martin's Press
December 01, 1999
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