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on 1 January 2014
There's not a great deal on obscure German Princesses that has been published in English so it is always a joy when there is something new to read. Also it is always a joy to read anything written by John Van der Kiste. He could make the writing on a plastic bag into an interesting story. Here we have 2 Princesses overshadowed by their ancestors (Queen Victoria and the Empress Frederick, and also Charlotte's brother the Kaiser). They had fractious relationships with each other and really with practically everyone around them. John tells the nuts and bolts of the story - births, marriages, deaths etc but digs deeper and tries to bring an understanding of what both these women were going through and how their dysfunctional relationships shaped their actions. In today's medical world, one would probably say that they both needed counselling. And in the background, there is the Porphyria that was rife in their family, the restrictions that Royal Princesses had on their lives, and a couple of European wars! The traditional take on these two Prussian Princesses, especially Charlotte, is that they were a couple of spoiled brats. But John makes you ask, "What chance did they stand?" I certainly came away from this book with a kinder outlook on Charlotte and Feodora.
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on 17 October 2015
I had such high expectations for this book as there is so little out there in English about the German Imperial Family. But unfortunately I have been very disappointed. This is probably one of the worst written books I have ever read. It is confusing, oftentimes because pronouns are not clarified. But the text is a jumble of rambling information with lots of quotes, only vaguely given attribution. And it bothered me tremendously that he refers to both Empress Frederick and Empress Augusta as Empress. The only way to tell who he is talking about is from context. The concept is interesting but there is no analysis of the relationship between Charlotte and Feodora (and Charlotte and her mother either, for that matter) except to say that it wasn't good. From the book, it is unclear what the real problem was. The rest of the book is just a series of rumors regarding the three main characters. Many events are mentioned but not detailed and so contradictory explanations arise in the text. There is just so much missing from this book. Having also read "The Prussian Princesses" by the same author and having been disappointed there, as well, it seems that it would be best to avoid Van der Kiste's work altogether. However, his subject matter is so fascinating. I would avoid this book. Hopefully, something better will be written soon.
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on 26 July 2013
As an avid royalist I read everything I can find about the Royal family, especially ones that are about less well known members of the family. This was a most interesting book and I enjoyed it very much. An interesting insight into the relationship between mothers and daughters in that period of history.
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on 25 January 2013
Very interesting book quite short and obviously limited in great detail due to royal families being so secretive and insular with the truth. Wet the appetite for further royal reading.
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on 14 August 2015
A short but interesting monograph on two of the lesser-known descendants of Queen Victoria, which will be particularly appreciated by Victorian royalty buffs looking for new material on unfamiliar figures, something John Van der Kiste is very good at providing. Neither Charlotte nor Feodora could be said to be pleasant people, but this makes their story more interesting and I liked the way the author connected their frustrations as royal women to their frequent illnesses - real or imagined. I read it in one sitting - hadn't intended to but couldn't stop once I started! It was my first kindle book and ideal for this format.
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on 27 April 2016
The book made excellent reading, and completed by a number of superb photographs. One can only wonder if the relationship between the two protagonists would have been better if Charlotte's mother, Empress Frederick, had recognised the similarities between her own symptoms and her daughter's, acknowledged them, and been much more sympathetic and understanding towards her. Charlotte herself was very obviously not the attracted to the shackles of marital bliss and resulting motherhood, but she might perhaps have not been as cold towards Feodora as she was. Of course, nineteenth/ early twentieth century aristocracy, the ladies in particular, were rarely instructed, sometimes more than reluctant to learn about or discuss their personal health problems, even with their spouses. Never mind their children. Such a very sad ending, with Feodora's suicide just after the end of World War 2.
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on 9 April 2014
This was a good historical account of royal family traumatic relationships. It did help me understand that era of history a bit better. It doesn't flow but it's readable.
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on 28 December 2013
this book was okay but did not tell the reader anything she did not already know and had read before
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on 2 June 2014
I enjoyed it inasmuch as I had already read a bit about the two main characters and wanted to know more but it was a bit repetitive and the identity of some of the characters for me needed explaining at times...ie there were two different baronesses mentioned but later on in further text you were never sure which one was being referred to.
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on 25 February 2014
A quick canter through German minor royalty. Nothing new learned. An easy undemanding read. Lack of contemporary papers hinder the narrative.
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