In Triumph’s Wake

In Triumph's Wake - 2008

Praise for In Triumph’s Wake:

“The unusual melding of Spanish, English, Austrian, French and Prussian history into one sweeping project is done with remarkable clarity and verve. Excerpts of her subjects’ letters are integrated flawlessly into the sequence of events. Gelardi is also skilled in placing actions within the larger historical framework of international relations, as well as genetics—Gelardi traces the devastating effects of hemophilia on royal families in one of her most interesting tangents. The personal relationships portrayed are layered and complex, and tidbits regarding fashion and Queen Victoria’s childhood love of dolls are not to be missed . . . an excellent, comprehensive study of six fascinating women and the troubled times that shaped their lives.”—Publishers Weekly

“Uniquely conceived, well-argued comparison study of three epochal matriarchs—Queen Isabella of Castile, Empress Maria Theresa and Queen Victoria—and the daughters who didn’t measure up. Three sad stories make it clear that anxiety of influence made it impossible for the offspring of these great lady monarchs to meet their mothers’ standards. . . . Gelardi delivers substantial, accessible European history.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[T]he interweaving of the queens’ tales does make for appealing narrative history. While these three royal mothers are forever associated with steely determination, great intelligence, and inspirationally successful reigns, their ill-fated daughters are just as ensconced in the roles of great tragic figures, frequently viewed as women battered by misfortune or, worse yet, brought down by their own personal failings. Gelardi seeks to humanize them as she tells these doubly sad stories.”—Library Journal

“Historian Julia Gelardi is passionate about bringing human drama to life in her books. She has done that with skill in In Triumph’s Wake.”—Pioneer Press (Minnesota).


The powerful and moving story of three royal mothers whose successes and triumphs contrasted sharply with the fates of their unfortunate daughters.  A compelling work of narrative history that contrasts the lives of Queen Isabella of Castile and Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England;  Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Queen Marie Antoinette of France;  and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the German Empress Frederick.Queen Isabella of Castile, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom were respected and admired rulers whose legacies continue to be felt today.  Their daughters – Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England;  Queen Marie Antoinette of France; and Vicky, the German Empress Frederick – are equally legendary for the tragedies that befell them, their roles in history surpassed by their triumphant mothers’.  In Triumph’s Wake is the first book to bring together the poignant stories of these mothers and daughters in a single narrative.

Isabella of Castile forged a united Spain and presided over the discovery of the New World;  Maria Theresa defeated her male rivals to claim the imperial crown; and Victoria presided over the British Empire.  But because of their ambitions and political machinations, each mother pushed her daughter toward a marital alliance that resulted in disaster.  Catherine of Aragon was cruelly abandoned by Henry VIII who cast her aside in search of a male heir and tore England away from the pope.  Marie Antoinette lost her head on the guillotine when France erupted into revolution and the Reign of Terror.  Vicky died grief stricken, horrified at her inability to prevent her son, Kaiser Wilhelm II, from setting Germany on a belligerent trajectory that eventually led to World War I.

Exhaustively researched and utterly compelling, In Triumph’s Wake is the story of three unusually strong women and the devastating consequences their decisions had on the lives of their equally extraordinary daughters.

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One response to “In Triumph’s Wake

  1. Pingback: A uniquely portable magic | Maria Olaguera

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