Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Victoria's Daughters review

Because most of my projects right now consist of Christmas gifts for the upcoming holidays, I really can't put up anything right in relation to said projects (Spoilers!). Instead I'm going to try and spend the month of November catching up on my backlog of reviews. We're starting with a book.

Queen Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard was plucked from a used bookstore maybe 2-3 years ago and I finally read it over the summer. As the title states, the core material covers Queen Victoria's five daughters; Vicky (Victoria), Alice, Helena, Louise, and Beatrice. From the formative years of their parents' relatioship, to the final days of Princess Beatrice during WWII, the book touches upon each of the Queen's daughters and the unique lives each of them lived.
As the daughters of a monarch who ruled over a quarter of the earth's population during her reign, the princesses' lives were closely watched - and ruled - by not only their parents but by their subjects as well. Each had their own personality, passions and faults, that helped define who they were as adults. Along with their lives, their statuses as British princesses had a huge impact among the ruling houses of Europe as marriages were made, alliances were formed then broken, and wars later waged.

The author paints a well researched tome that helps the reader to understand how each of these women's lives were affected not only by politics, but family alliances as well during the course of their lifetimes. For those of use who like to read into the history of Victoria, this book is rather unique because while it is certainly not an in-depth biography, it is neither a quick glean over their life stories.

Vicky is probably the better known of their princesses as the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm, and Beatrice for being the dutiful daughter who was supposed to remain at her mother's side after Prince Albert's sudden passing in 1861. Then there was Alice, mostly remembered for her daughter Alexandra, later Tsarina of Imperial Russia. But Helena and Louise I had little information on, aside from the small tid bits picked up here and there while watching films and reading other books.

Each lived a life that had some Dutiful Daughter aspects, but then each had their own methods of revolting against their overbearing mother. It's nice to know that each of these women recognized the importance of their positions and utilized that to the benefit of the people and their adopted home areas.

Louise's life I found particularly interesting because of all of Victoria's children, she was the only one to not have any children. Her marriage was far from ideal (a typical Victorian marriage of convenience it would seem), but it blessed her with the opportunity to briefly escape from underneath her mother to Canada. Eventually though, she grew to dislike Ottawa (the area where she and her husband resided) and returned to England without him. Only a couple of unique facts about one of Victoria's lesser known daughters, in my opinion.

This book hardly does the justice of a full-fledged biography about each of the individual daughter's, but it serves as a good base to develop further knowledge on each of them. It is non-fiction, so do not expect an exciting book that is a quick read. Packard has exhaustively researched his materials to provide as much info as possible in 370 pages (Family tree, list of characters, notes, index, etc. included) and has done so with finesse. Be warned however, the royal houses of Europe during the 19th Century used the same 20 names repeatedly, which can make the understanding of family relationships a bit confusing at times, excluding the fact and number of these houses married into each other several times.

Overall - 4 out of 5 

No comments:

Post a Comment