In The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, in 1853, Elizabeth, Duchess of Bavaria is ordered to travel with her sister to the Habsburg summer court. Franz Joseph, the young and exciting emperor is ready to settle down and get married. His mother, the Archduchess Sophie has decided that Elizabeth ‘s sister Helene would be a perfect match for her son. Helene doesn’t want to get married and she certainly doesn’t want to become Empress but she has no choice in the matter. When the two sisters are introduced to the court it becomes very obvious that Elizabeth or Sisi as she is called by her family would be better suited to be Franz Joseph ‘s wife. Sisi was never trained to become royalty and as she struggles in her new role, she throws the Hapsburg court into disarray
I wasn’t familiar at all with Sisi prior to reading this book. Once I got a few chapters in, I Googled her name to get a better understanding of her. The best way I can describe Sisi and her impact on the Hapsburgs is that she was the Princess Diana of her day. Sisi set the fashion standards for women in the empire and like Diana she became more popular than the ruling family she married into. Unlike Diana, Sisi didn’t have the option of divorcing her husband when the marriage soured.
One of the hardest parts for me to relate to was how Sisi had no relationship with her children. Sophie literally snatches them from her at birth and refuses to allow Sisi to have any contact. Sisi seems content at first to allow it and by the time she finds her back bone, it’s too late.
Sophie is a horrible person to read about. I know I wouldn’t like her when Sisi recalls having been slapped across the face by her as a young child for running at court. Sophie completely controls Franz Joseph and he does almost everything she asks even if it means angering his wife.
Pataki does a wonderful job in writing this book. She paints a vivid picture of the court without overdoing it. Pataki had me hooked from the first page and I couldn’t stop reading.
Overall this was a very enjoyable book for me and a new to me author that I look forward to reading more from. Readers who enjoy Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, and C.W Gortner will definitely want to read this book.
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About the Book:
Title: The Accidental Empress
Author: Allison Pataki
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Category: Historical Romance/Fiction
Source: Borrowed from the Library
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.
With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empressoffers a captivating glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”