Characters in Depth:
Hildegard von Goff-Puttkamer

First Trilogy
All Manor of Yarns

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  I. Prussian Yarns

 II. A Stitch in Time

III. Tinctures & Tantrums

Second Trilogy
The Snow Queen and
The Caterpillar

IV. There is a Season
 V. Viennese Yarns
VI. Orchids

Third Trilogy
Taffeta Tales

 VII. British Yarns
VIII. Polish Yarns
  IX. Threads of Strife

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Lorraine Stanton
Vicki Wootton
Shalanna Collins

Hildegard Fredericka Marie Helena von Goff-Puttkamer is the last surviving child of Friedrich and Clothild von Puttkamer, stereotypical jack-booted Junkers, who were so desperate to have a son and heir that they paid no attention to their baby girl at all.  Unwanted, Hildegard was left entirely to the care of the nanny, who came to regard Hildegard as her own child.  The nanny, Frau Blücher, was overly controlling, overly protective, never recognising that Hildegard grew beyond being a fragile premature baby.

Raised in a cocooning isolation, Hildegard grew up afraid of virtually everything outside of her own rooms.  Becoming the heiress when her older sister joined a convent was sheer torture for her, and intensified rather than dissipated her fears of the outside world.  Because she appeared to be so delicate, her nanny was permitted to stay with her long after babyhood, on into her married life.

There were those who believed Otto von Goff only married Hildegard to obtain the estate, but, in fact, Hildegard had fallen for Otto as being the only man she’d ever met who didn’t frighten her.  She quickly came to see him as just another torment when his view of a wife did not include someone who was only happy isolated in her rooms producing hats for functions she never attended.

When Otto and Hildegard’s son was born too prematurely to live, and the only child she carried long enough for it to survive was a daughter, Luise, Hildegard felt as if she had failed as a woman.  She took no interest in her daughter or her survival.  Frau Blücher did not dote on Luise as she had on Hildegard, she remained firmly attached to Hildegard’s side. 

Hildegard came to view Luise as just another torment.  She couldn’t understand the relationship between Otto and Luise, seeing their gleeful light-hearted banter and affection as indecent.  No matter how hard she tried to turn Luise into a demure, timid child as she had been, Luise remained vigorous, energetic, joyful, curious – all attributes that made Hildegard cringe.

While Hildegard’s mother, Clothild, was alive, Clothild continued to run the estate manor house as if she were still the wife of the master.  This allowed Hildegard to live the life of a school-girl without the lessons, dallying away her days in her suite, taking no responsibility for anything.  Every time her mother attempted to make Hildegard fulfill her role as mistress of the manor, Hildegard would consider that she might be pregnant again, and by that ruse would avoid doing anything outside of her rooms.  She even managed to avoid social obligations by forever being too delicate.

When Clothild died, and Hildegard could no longer avoid her responsibilities, she felt utterly overwhelmed, retreating inside her grief for months until Frau Blücher forced her to get up and go outside her rooms to control Otto.  Hildegard did her best to please Frau Blücher as she always had, but she could not prevent Otto from retiring the elderly servants and replacing them with younger, more capable ones.  Even worse, she could not prevent Otto from hiring unsuitable people to work and live inside the manor house.  Hildegard was unable to hire people herself, and drove out the ones Otto hired by finding fault with everyone and everything that was unfamiliar to her.  When Otto, in desperation, brought the cook’s daughter up from the kitchens to wait on the tables, Hildegard was unable to drive the unsuitable girl back down to the kitchens.

Without any skills of negotiation, Hildegard’s only means of objecting to Otto’s actions was to scream at him, which made matters worse.  Rail against his actions as she might, he involved himself more and more in the running of the household, filling the void left by Clothild’s death that she should have filled, even to the point of changing the colours of the uniforms worn inside the house, and hiring an assistant governess, a tutor, and a companion for Luise.

She felt bewildered and terrified by what she saw as unnatural behaviour in a man, since no real man ever concerned himself about the running of his household.  Frau Blücher ordered Hildegard to prevail upon Otto to cease his unnatural acts, but Hildegard was utterly unable to affect his behaviour.  She couldn’t even make Luise behave like a lady.  She came close to complete emotional collapse under the strain.


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