The Accidental Empress
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: February 2015
Duration: 18 hours 8 minutes
The year is 1853, and the Hapsburgs are Europe's most powerful ruling family. With his Empire stretching from Austria to Spain, from Germany south to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is rich, young, and ready to marry.
Elisabeth, "Sisi," Duchess of Bavaria, is the younger sister of Emperor Franz Joseph's fiance. While accompanying her sister to the Hapsburg Court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently won the heart of the young Emperor. Intrigued by Sisi's guileless charm and energetic spirit, not to mention her undeniable beauty, Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry the younger of the two sisters instead.
But being plucked from obscurity and thrust onto the stage of Europe's most treacherous imperial court presents a series of unanticipated and dangerous challenges for the sixteen-year old bride. Sisi's new mother-in-law, the indomitable Archduchess Sophie, views her son's wife as a threat to her own preeminence at court. Sisi's ladies-in-waiting, some of Vienna's most alluring young maidens, all seem to be vying for the attention of her handsome husband. And producing an heir for the Hapsburg dynasty proves to be only the first in a litany of ordeals awaiting the new Empress.
Like The Other Boleyn Girl, The Winter Palace, and Cleopatra's Daughter, Pataki's novel offers a fascinating glimpse into the bedrooms and staterooms of one of history's most intriguing royal families. Told through the perspective of a relatable yet iconic heroine, The Accidental Empress sheds new light on the Hapsburg Empire, a preeminent dynasty in the final years of Europe's grand monarchies, and its most beloved "Fairy Queen," the woman who fought to win and keep the love of her Emperor, and of the world.