Unfortunately, Prussia (led by Frederick's conservative father Wilhelm I and the EVIL EVIL EVIL Chancellor Bismarck) was highly conservative and Anglophobic. Frederick was a talented soldier (papers released decades later made it clear he was a main reason Prussia won the Austro-Prussian War) and dedicated son. If I could rewrite history, I would kill off Wilhelm I so Frederick could rule, and kill off Bismarck and WIlhelm II so they wouldn't frustrate Frederick and Vicky's liberal plans.
Obstenisbly, this is a biography of Queen Victoria's eldest child, the Princess Royal of England and eventual Empress of Germany, Victoria, or "Vicky", as she is referred to throughout the book. I think Pakula does a fairly good job of keeping the book as narrowly focused as possible, given the scope that she's set for herself. If occasionally they gave into the establishment, and eventually gave up hope of reform- well, the book definitely shows you why, and stamps out any questions you might have about why the way Germany was the way it was at the time and why there was no revolution and no change, long after pretty much every other country had moved on. Yeah, mostly I just felt like a five year old screaming 'BUT ITS NOT FAIR!!' in my corner most of this book.
It was time consuming because of the incredible amount of historical information.
Without getting too far into the politics of it all, let's just say the world would have been a very different place if Fritz (Vicky's husband and heir to the Prussian throne) hadn't died when he did. Vicky's life - and Fritz's, too - reminded me of the Henry James novella "The Beast in the Jungle." If you've read it, you know what I mean. I wish Pakula had included a little more detail on Vicky's kids. But since so many of her kids seemed like jerks, I think there's a lot of room for analysis: why? How did two compassionate, loving, and intelligent people end up with kids like Wilhelm, Charlotte, and Henry?
Quite simply a brilliant biography of a complex and highly imperfect woman with perfect and noble intentions in an impossible time, place and world. The daughter of Victoria and Albert, wife of Frederick and mother of Wilhelm she was set upon and set for herself a path of impossible contradictions, conflicting agendas and sorely tested loyalties.
Vicky's royal parents arranged her marriage to a future German monarch while she was still a child. From the beginning, Vicky and Prince Frederick Wilhelm had a loving and companionable marriage which seemed to be unusual, and even suspect, in the German royal court.
I plunged into this book after completing what could be considered a primer on Queen Victoria. To her mother, Queen Victoria of England, she was simply Vickie.
This book was a big surprise for me, since I was not familiar with the author and am relatively well read in the subject matter.
Massie's Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War. This biography is detailed, but it doesn't bog you down too much.
Hannah Pakula is the author of "The Last Empress," which was a New York Times notable book, "The Last Romantic: A Biograpy of Queen Marie of Roumania," which was called by Graham Greene the best biography and one of the three best books of the year, and "An Uncommon Woman: Empress Frederick," which was a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist.