Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Author: Allison Pataki
Publisher: Howard Books
“Keeping up the front. That’s what this is. We play our roles today. And then, tonight, I may finally be with you,” Sisi is told in Allison Pataki’s novel, The Accidental Empress.
At five hundred and twelve pages, this detailed hardbound targets those interested in a historical romantic fiction during Austria’s reign in the late nineteenth century. Topics of adultery, illness, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The book concludes with a conversation with the author, fifteen group discussion questions, and acknowledgements.
After a map of the Austrian empire, introduction about Emperor Franz Joseph, and prologue, nineteen chapters cover an in-depth fiction of several years in the life of Empress Elisabeth, well-known as Sisi.
At the tender age of fifteen, Sisi travels from Bavaria with her mother and older sister to the Imperial Resort at Bad Ischl, Upper Austria. There an arrangement is made for her sister to be engaged to their dashing twenty-one-year-old cousin, Franz.
Habsburg Court is dramatically altered when Franz becomes captivated the teenage Sisi and declares his love to her. With his controlling and overbearing mother always at his side, he is caught between forcing to keep imperial protocols and procedures and his growing love for Sisi.
Informed marriage is mainly to produce an heir, Sisi tries ardently to fulfill her new role as empress as she relearns how to socialize, dance, and appear in public. Always demanded to perform, she becomes lonely, listless, and discouraged.
Only when Franz and she go to Hungary does Sisi feel alive again. However, when she bares children, they are quickly torn away from her love and embrace by her challenging and disruptive mother-in-law.
With Franz dealing with the empire’s potential demise, Sisi must make decisions that will alter her life, marriage, fondness for another, and the stability of the empire.
Including quotes from Goethe, Shakespeare, and the woman known and loved by her country, the story shows how an adored but broken-hearted empress became Queen of Hungary as she morphed into whom she wanted to be instead of had to be.
Pataki’s thoroughness of politics, traditions, culture, and indiscretions of the era in this fascinating fiction brings to light the frustrations and love one woman endured during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ending with Sis’s future unknown, the book leaves the possibility for an engaging sequel.
Thanks to Howard Books for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinions.