Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.

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 Empress offers 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.”

Kindle Edition, Advance Reader Copy, 512 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Howard Books

The author, Allison Pataki is a new one for me.  The Hapsburg are also new to me.  As much as I love discovering a new talent there is always that fear of failure.  Does my anticipation mar my expectation level  This isn't a small book, coming in at 512 pages (I love big books), add all the hype The Accidental Empress has generated could this be as good as I heard?  Well I am very happy to report that it did, I had a very hard time putting this book down.  It was written with feeling and emotion that at one point I wanted to reach into the book and ring someones neck.  Creating that kind of feeling is something I think is brillant.

One of the things that I love about reading a time period and location that is unfamiliar is that there are no preconceived plots nor character sketches already formed.

Elizabeth is only 15 years old when we are first introduced, it is 1853.  A very likeable girl, carefree and enjoying life.  The author did a wonderful job of developing her character.  Watching her grow from this teenager to wife to mother to empress was done in such a way that one can't help connecting with her.  With all the garabage that she has to deal with (by herself) it is a wonder that she survived.

It's very obvious that the author knows this time period well and has a passion for it - this is reflected plainly in her writing.  The writing was smooth with descriptions that had me visualizing the country and lifestyle.

The book ended in such a manner that a sequel is possible and this reader really hopes there will be one.

This is Allison Pataki's second novel, The Traitor's Wife was her first, which has been relocated near the top of my tbr pile.  Definitely an author I will read more of.

Thank you to netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book. 

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