The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Title:  The Accidental Empress (A Novel)
Author:  Allison Pataki
Pages:  512
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Howard Books
Absolutely stunning!  Breathtaking!  Riveting!  Allison Pataki’s latest novel, The Accidental Empress, is a glimpse behind closed doors into a world that holds royalty with both sorrow and triumph.  Allison shares with the audience the sources she read in order to gain understanding into the 1800s, across the ocean to Empress Elisabeth, affectionately known as Sisi.  Franz Joseph is Emperor in Austria and looking to wed and produce an heir.  For years his mother painstakingly brought those near to prepare him to assume his duties.  Now, a 15-year-old girl, Sisi, will learn much before the wedding and more so afterwards.
“A Conversation with the Author Allison Pataki” sheds much light into a foreign world ruled by a monarchy and what is fictional and what is factual about the real people we read about in her novel.  I read that part shortly after starting the novel and doing so richly enhanced my appreciation of setting, people and times encapsulated in the story.  Before entering this world, I knew nothing about the past in Hungary or Austria or about the real Empress and how she was loved by a people and a nation.
When confronted with her mother-in-law’s actions, I knew but a bit of the anger Sisi felt.  Franz Joseph though Emperor knew he loved Sisi the moment their eyes beheld each other; yet, it seemed he knew so little about the heart of his wife.  The demands placed upon his shoulders as Emperor, making decisions in agreement with his mother brings such palpable tension to the novel.
When Sisi goes through so many heartbreaks and protocol, it is amazing to me how she held her head high through it all.  Franz Joseph never seemed to be able to leave his mother’s grasp and cling to his wife.  He seemed more of a puppet than a ruler.  The descriptions of various nations, palaces, people, customs and such captivated my imagination and heart.  Some time ago when word of the author’s new novel was known, I looked forward to reading it expectantly and I wasn’t disappointed!
Make time to read, absorb and be enraptured by the times that real people lived in even though this offering is fiction.  Trust me, Allison Pataki shows us both the best and the worst of this era, especially those who lived in and through many changing seasons of life.
My rating is 5+ stars.
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