The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.
Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.
Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.
ALLISON PATAKI is the author of the New York Times bestselling and critically-acclaimed historical novel, The Traitor’s Wife. She graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English and spent several years writing for TV and online news outlets.
A lover of history, Allison was inspired to write The Accidental Empress by her family’s deep roots in the former Habsburg empire of Austria-Hungary. Allison is the co-founder of the nonprofit organization, ReConnect Hungary. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and FoxNews.com, and is a member of The Historical Novel Society. Allison lives in Chicago with her husband.
My book club, Page Turners, chose The Accidental Empress upon my recommendation. I really enjoyed The Traitor’s Wife and thought this book would have all the elements for a good discussion. Well, a long road trip allowed me to finish this book with time to spare, but kept me from attending my group’s meeting! I haven’t spoken to anyone to find out their thoughts. Have you read this book? Please let me know what you thought.
The Accidental Empress focuses on the life of Empress Elisabeth, Sisi, of Austria. A younger daughter of an obscure Bavarian duke, Sisi burst onto to the world stage at the age of 15 when she won the heart of then Emperor, Franz Josef. Ruling in a time of great change in technology, culture and politics, Sisi has little to do with the world around her. Marginalized by her domineering mother-in-law and sometimes indifferent and distracted husband, Sisi lives alone and lonely apart from the comfort of family. The book covers only the first 15 years of her reign and stops just as Sisi begins to come into her own.
The Accidental Empress is a fictionalized version of history and presents a somewhat romantic view of Sisi’s life. Pataki draws heavily on the historical record, but presents her own version of Sisi when that record stops short. I enjoyed the look into the very foreign world of the wealthy nobility with its cumbersome protocol covering all parts of life, including the slippers on Sisi’s feet and the gloves on her hands. There were plenty of times I wanted Sisi to assert her free-spirited personality, but as unique as she was, she was still a woman of her age. Pataki has also left open the possibility of another book in which Sisi will undoubtedly emerge strong and a woman in possession of her own future.
The audiobook version was read by the same person that read The Traitor’s Wife. She did an admirable job of bringing the Hapsburgs to life.
Great for Book Clubs.
To purchase this book, click HERE.
(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)