Find this and other reviews at NOTE This review contains spoilers Please take heed and proceed at your own risk I love the Hapsburgs Their history fascinates me and I was understandably intrigued when I learned that Allison Pataki had chosen to feature Empress Elisabeth as a fictional heroine I was overjoyed to et an ARC of The Accidental Empress but the reality of the novel didn t live up to my expectations That said my two year experience with the first book proved I was too addicted to the subject matter to walk away from the series and challenged me to approach the seuel Sisi Empress on Her Own with a open mind Resolved to ive the author the benefit of the doubt I jumped straight into the latter and did my best to remain objective Did the effort pay off Sort of The novel incorporated a number of references and I enjoyed the ame I made of picking out historically relevant cameos but I fell into old habits and uickly found myself wrestling to rectify the fiction against my own inner dialogue and understanding of the royal family Fair warning folks what follows is a soapbox series of complaints by an exceedingly nitpicky reader I m bias and make no apologies for it but please keep in mind my enthusiasm relates to my passion for the material and is not necessarily even keeled Spoilers abound in the following paragraphs Consider yourself warnedI feel the strongest moments of the narrative were the scenes relayed from Luigi s point of view but I am frustrated to report that these passages couldn t have played out as presented in the book Pataki s illustration of Sisi s assassination includes an evening of premeditation that contradicts the timeline Luigi s intended target was Philippe Duke of Orleans but a change of plans meant the Duke was elsewhere Frustrated Luigi looked for a new mark and settled on Sisi after finding her name in the local paper The paper was published on September 10th the same day Sisi was assassinated which means Luigi could not have meditated on her death the night before and while that observation means little in the rand scheme of things I couldn t help feeling the dramatic shift in context minimized the tragedy of the Empress death She was selected as a target only hours before the attack which made it a crime of opportunity and I am not comfortable with the liberty taken in white washing that fact as it ave Sisi s assassin far credit than he is dueI also struggled with the lack of complexity between Elisabeth and Franz Pataki s interpretation is very black and white but I have reason to believe the marriage was in fact much complicated In a letter to his mistress Franz Joseph wrote the following We are uite well physically The Empress has taken up her lessons again and she devotes herself to the study of modern Greek with her usual zeal in her room and in her walks in the Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood garden It is a necessary distraction for her and Valerie reads to her in the evenings before we retire while I fall off to sleep in a very comfortable reclining chair Otherwise the Empress is composed and occupied only with her concern for my welfare and for cheering me but still I notice how utterly the deep secretrief fills her She is a Imagine That! great rare woman Their history is convoluted and while their union did not have the hallmarks of a passionate romance the Emperor s correspondence appears to indicate that despite their difficulties the two were companionable warm and mutually supportive of one another Those familiar with my comments on Daisy Goodwin s The Fortune Hunter understand that I was a not a fan of the novel The idea of Sisi doning her famed star jewels for an informal evening tryst in the stables of an English country estate still makes me laugh but the fact remains that Goodwin spent a lot of time researching Sisi s beauty regime and the details she worked into her novel earned her a degree of admiration from yours truly Details on Goodwin s firsthand research can be found here Pataki by contrast makes no mention of Sisi s extreme dedication to her physical appearance and I couldn t help asking myself why Sisi s features and fashion choices made her a legend in her own lifetime and I found it difficult to understand how such an intense routine could be so completely omitted from a story centered on the most beautiful woman in the world especially when said rituals are referenced in the historic notes at the end of the novel in uestionMayerling makes its first appearance as the setting for a meeting between Elisabeth and Andrassy just after the World Fair in 1873 Pataki paints it as a royal property but here again I found myself nitpicking The notorious locale was acuired by Rudolf in 1887 from the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz which had owned it since 1550 This understanding being firmly rooted in my mind I couldn t see the fictional scene as plausible and conseuently assume it was invented to draw a tragic parallel between mother and son I llrant it s a creative idea but I personally found it distasteful After the incident Franz Joseph ordered the property be converted to a convent and the Empress commissioned a striking and oddly prophetic Madonna for the chapel In my eyes the existence of this memorial is evidence of the deep and unrelenting pain Sisi associated with Mayerling and I don t think the fiction recognizes those emotionsPolitically speaking Sisi character shows significant inconsistencies There are discussions with Franz Andrassy Ludwig that show her as possessing a Elena's Conquest great deal of political acumen I personally agreed with this interpretation but my opinion on that point is entirely irrelevant I d have been just as happy if Sisi had been painted as an independent self indulgent social butterfly but the fact that she flits back and forth between the two was difficult to swallow Sisi couldn t have been fiercely passionate about her role as Empress and repelled by execution of her imperial duties at the same time and as a reader I found the inherent contradiction disorientingI understand Sisi to have been a complicated and deeply troubled soul with a host of personal demons but Pataki s Sisi was largely preoccupied with and defined by her love life I struggled with that but at the end of the day I don t hold it against the author Pataki s understanding differs from my own but I d vowed to leto of my own preconceptions and at least try appreciate the character as Pataki envisioned her I made a point of examining the contrasts Pataki created in Sisi s relationships with Franz Andrassy and Bay and ultimately appreciated those themes a Sister of My Heart great deal On a similar note I was also deeply impressed with Pataki s illustration of the Emperor s relationship with Katharina SchrattChapter Fifteen was not my favorite as it omits much and peddles a number of anachronisms but this review is long enough and I think I ve illustrated my feelings well enough When all is said and done Sisi Empress on Her Own is stronger than its predecessor and I mlad to have read it but that said I found the completed work both unconvincing and inconsistent and would have difficulty recommending it forward This is the story of Sisi Empress Elisabeth of Austro Hungarian Empire unhappily married to Emperor Franz Joseph in the mid nineteenth century She looks for happiness in the arms of Hungarian statesman Count Andrassy as they share unhappy marriages Later in the arms of Captain Bay Middleton as they share passion for horses when she arrives for the legendary hunting season in EnglandThe book starts with Sisi debating why twilight looks different in Hungary than in Austria due to her unhappiness and that King Alfred's Version of St. Augustine's Soliloquies goes for about two pages You have to like this kind of writing to be able too through with this book If you liked part I The Accidental Empress then you probably will like this book If you didn t then I doubt you will like itSisi in her childhood enjoyed informal and unstructured upbringing Therefore she had difficulty adapting to the life at Hofburg Palace and its rigid protocols and strict etiuette Her children except the youngest one were snatched from her by her mother in law Princess Sophie She suffered Rescuing Gus greatly because of that Unfortunately the way the story is presented in this book is notratifying for Sisi She is not a likeable character She is full of self pity We all should feel very sorry for her What she cares most about is her loverOverall the writing is poor with vain descriptions not reflecting a skillful story telling The author lists the rigid rules of Habsburg s court as they came up with the court rules and no other court had any of them In terms of historical figures I am not a fan of Sisi However the author doesn t do her justice with this story The Accidental Empress was a book that really captivated me Partly because of the author s writing style but mostly because while I knew a smidgen about Empress Elisabeth of the Hapsburgs I didn t know much so I was eager to et her storySisi Empress on Her Own takes up where The Accidental Empress left off and follows the middle and later years of. In bestselling author Allison Pataki’s highly anticipated new novel Sisi Empress on Her Own the tantalizing story behind one of history’s unsung leading ladies the Habsburg Empress Elizabeth “Sisi” is revealedIn imperial Vienna where the court halls buzzed with waltzes and champagne as well as temptation rivals and cutthroat intrigue.
D that is the sign of a well written well researched well structured book Just for comparison Philippa Gregory s books simply leave me wondering how the hell she ot published in the first place so putting her and Pataki together in the same league is a head scratcher for me During the time period this novel covers Empress Elisabeth of Austria may have been fascinating but she did not evoke sympathy During the time period the first novel The Accidental Empress covered Sisi was a young naive Portrait of a Starter: An Unhidden Story girl who had spent a carefree unstructured unrestrained childhood and then was put in a difficult situation not of her choosing She was not the first or the last to marry into a difficult or challenging royal situation The way a person meets their challenges shows their true character Sisi chose to literally run away from her challenges involving the royal court her marriage and her two elder children Sisi fled from her husband and children as well as her duties at court by freuent traveling Because of the nature of the historical Sisi she does not make a sympathetic character in this novel at all Instead she is selfish and self centered and that is the major problem with this novel I simply can t find anything to like about herThe first half of the novel was OK but somewhere near the middle it started to really drag I ve been to all the Habsburg sites in Vienna but I would have appreciated description as Sharon Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick do in their medieval works Those authors make readers feels as if they are there with the characters There was too much wonderings of Sisi with too many rhetorical uestions pages and pages of wonderings and too much about riding horses and Bay Middleton so I started to skim There were too many errors with facts that could have been easily checked so I started to ask myself if I could trust any facts at all Yes it is historical fiction and I willive historical fiction writers some artistic license but I do expect some things to be factual The following are just several of the things I have issues with I am a ueen Victoria and family buff and the factual errors about her children drove me bonkers1 When she visited the World s Fair in Vienna in 1873 Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia the eldest child of ueen Victoria was not a young princess or living in her new home Berlin So very wrong and so easy to check facts Crown Princess Victoria was born in 1840 she was 33 when she visited Vienna and was only three years younger than Sisi born in 1837 she was 36 at the time of the World s Fair Victoria married in 1858 had lived in Berlin for 15 years and was the mother of eight children by the time of the Vienna visit2 Edward was closer in age to Rudolf than Frederick had been insinuating Albert Edward not Edward see 3 and Rudolf would have in common OK but Albert Edward was still 17 years older than Rudolf They were hardly contemporaries Rudolf was a 15 year old and Albert Edward was a 32 year old married man with five children Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia was born in 1831 Albert Edward Prince of Wales was born in 1841 Crown Prince Rudolf was born in 1858 3 ueen Victoria s eldest son and heir would never have been called Prince Edward His name was Albert Edward and his title was Prince of Wales not Crown Prince He would have been called The Prince of Wales or if using Prince Prince Albert Edward He was called Bertie in the family He used his second name when he became king reigning as King Edward VII but he was still called Bertie in the family He chose to reign as Edward his mother wanted him to reign as Albert Edward so as not to diminish the status of his father s name4 Rudolf bought Mayerling in 1886 and converted it into a hunting lodge Previously it was a possession of the nearby Heiligenkreuz Abbey for over 300 years and was not a Habsburg royal hunting lodge as stated at the time Sisi rode to it in the novel I also doubt Sisi would have been allowed to ride the 25 or so miles from Vienna to Mayerling alone and in the winter and the 25 miles is using today s roads I ve driven from Vienna to Mayerling which is literally in the middle of nowhere Once we ot off the highway it was all country roads It took about 1 12 hours to drive there Sisi would have been riding 50 or so miles back and forth from Vienna and Mayerling in one day in winter conditions probably unlikely in reality5 It s stated that Rudolf could not marry any of ueen Victoria s daughters because they were Church of England In 1881 when Rudolf married all the daughters but one the youngest Beatrice had been married for years Beatrice was born in 1857 her sisters were much older born 1840 1848 Yes make the case that there were not a lot of Catholic princesses but not that ueen Victoria s daughters could have been major prospects if only they were Catholics6 the young German emperor younger than Rudolf will expect to be honored as an old friend Kaiser Wilhelm II was only five months younger than Rudolf which is insignificant and yes Wilhelm would expect to be treated as a friend as Austria and Germany had a treaty Thank you to NetGalley for my advanced reading copy of this novelThis was a wonderfully written novel that I enjoyed immensely After reading The Accidental Empress I was pleasantly surprised to discover there was a seuel as I was eager to learn about Empress Sisi of Austria HungaryThis novel begins where the last novel left us and therefore I strongly recommend reading them in order I enjoyed this novel even than I did the first one as I found it to be educational about who Sisi was as a person and how she dealt with the issues in her lifeSisi is a much stronger independent woman in this novel and I was intrigued to learn how she was able to cope with the rigid structure of being a Hapsburg and all that it entailed She struck me as a true free spirit a Fairy ueen as she was named by her people and therefore she ran away from the Hapsburg court as often as she couldI do not use the term ran away lightly There were many things that I felt Sisi was running away from to name a few the slander about her in the press the tension between her husband and her son even the prospect of too many Imperial functions would cause her to flee at times If you read this novel by itself I could see how it may cause you to view Sisi as selfish and irresponsible however if read after The Accidental Empress it becomes evident that Sisi HAS to take a step back from these things for her own well being of body and mind This is a woman with a much better handle on herself and her emotions than the Sisi of the first novel I really enjoyed seeing this change in her and therefore found myself rooted firmly in her camp when it came to the backlash surrounding her urge to flee the courtYet this is not to say that I agreed with every decision she made Her avoidance of her son s issues in particular was disturbing to me The author voices this same concern in her author s note The author muses upon whether or not the lack of control Sisi had in her children s upbringing led to this distancing of herself from them later in life Another thought is that she was reluctant to exert any kind of influence or control in fear of being too much like her mother in law Archduchess Sophie who strove to control the Imperial Family s every move It was upsetting to read of the deteriorating relationship between Crown Prince Rudolf and his parents I couldn t help but wonder if the fate of the Austrian Hungarian Empire would have been different if their relationship had not become so strained I was amazed by some of the events that transpired in the family As the author states in her author s note one cannot make this stuff up A particularly fascinating figure that appeared in this novel was Sisi s cousin King Ludwig II of Bavaria Mad King Ludwig is most famously known for his creation of Neuschwanstein the extraordinary fairy tale castle set amongst the mountains of Western Bavaria Ludwig was an eccentric recluse who became the patron of the composer Richard Wagner He bankrupted himself through his building work and his patronage of Wagner causing serious discontentment in the Bavarian overnment Although it was mostly through letters written between him and Sisi the author still managed to create a vivid character in Ludwig that I reatly enjoyed reading about I adored the descriptions of Neuschwanstein that were shown to us through Sisi s eyes and I found myself staring at photographs of the castle in wonder Ludwig s story is a sad one but his legacy of Neuschwanstein is awe inspiring all the sameOverall I really enjoyed this novel and I was able to et a ood sense of who Empress Sisi actually was Her life story is very interesting and there are many things that are curious enough to ive me pause for thought I ve found myself pondering many what ifs after finishing this novel and this is truly a sign of a Moonrise good read one that stays with me for a long time afterwards I am verylad to have read this pair of absorbing intriguing and well written novel. E rich romantic and volatile time period marked by pivotal events such as the opening of the Suez Canal Vienna’s World Exhibition and the lead up to WWI Sisi the beloved “Fairy ueen” won hearts and broke hearts fighting battles both epic and poignantly intimate as a woman well ahead of her time during a true Golden Age in European histo.
Sisi s life which also happens to coincide with the latter years of the Austrian Empire of the Hapsburgs I appreciate how the author paid attention to historical detail even while she didn t bury the story in minutiae There is so much here that I feel to do what she did in a duology was to pick and choose what to include that would further her story of Sisi along I say it that way on purpose because I m pretty sure that as it is with any historical figure written about in a fiction story its a take on that person and not a biographyIn the first book I had a Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi great sympathy for Sisi and was rooting for her to come into her own This book struck me rather differently While this is the story of the Empress who broke away from the court and was allowed to live her own life I was constantly struck by a person who was extremely self absorbed The Sisi of this story lived her own life on her own terms and refused toive attention to her duty at least not for very long as Empress and wife and mother She kept falling for men three of them whose duty took them elsewhere but she couldn t see why this had to be This woman was a runner Constantly running away from anything that cut up her peace and then once she After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 got where she wasoing she wasn t satisfied there either The most beautiful woman in the world an Empress treated well by her husband as state marriages Alien Alpha go and she shuns it all only to sit there wondering why her people rip her to shreds in the newpapers and why her own children want nothing to do with her I think this portrayed the humanity in her and her flaws mingled with her strengths rather wellSo while I enjoyed learning about Sisi the Empress and her personal life I think the biggest enjoyment from this book was the overall history of the times and the colorful people Sisi encountered Iot emotional near the end because I was attached as Sisi was to many of these people And yes it is so sad to think how she met her deathAll in all I m lad to have otten this second half of her story I definitely want to read about the key figures in this story including Sisi and I like the author s writing so I want to et of her work tooI received this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review I received a copy of Sisi Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki through NetGalley Thank you to NetGalley Random Hou What I m enjoying about this second book about the Empress Elizabeth is the deliberate placement in history her story takes King Ludwig Prince Frederick and Princess Victoria Esterhazy Lord Spencer Tsar Alexander are all in the storyline and Jack the Ripper as well as Sigmund Freud were mentionedSisi was married to Franz Joseph during the olden age of the Austrian Hungary empire In book two Sisi continues her personal practical exile from court this time visiting the fox hunting manors of the English countryside and where she meets one of the loves of her life Bay Middleton Throughout the book we read vignettes from a peasant with a death wish named Luigi His importance to the life of Empress Elisabeth was completely unknown to me Part of me wishes I had bee This is a wonderful story Allison does a reat job of bringing these historical figures to life I found it so interesting that I started Googling the different people to see what they looked like and to read about them I felt sorry for Sisi because she thought she had true love with Franz but like history the Emperor can have a mistress but the Empress can t have one Sisi fell in love with a couple men who could never be with her romantically I didn t know there was an Emperor in the late 1800 s like them who ruled several countries This was well worth my time I do recommend reading Accidental Empress first You will not be disappointedI won this on Goodreads Edit April 4415A lot of you lovely commentators have been asking me for recommendations for Sisi books I actually enjoyed I m happy to very highly recommend a book I ve finally finally managed to review called Stealing Sisi s Star How a Master Thief Nearly Got Away with Austria s Most Famous Jewel by the very talented Jennifer Bahaney who you may recognize from her helpful comments in this review when she kindly corrected all the stuff I ot wrong about the real empress She very kindly offered me a copy of her book and I m ve 45 starsAs we learned in The Accidental Empress which one must really read in order to understand Sisi s motivations and emotional handicaps and not ignorantly write her off simply as a spoiled horse lover Elisabeth was not born to the position of Empress Her childhood was unbelievably free and unstructured her parents allowed her and her siblings to run wild literally through the Bavarian countryside She never had to deal with convoluted and constricting rules of etiuette procedures which dictated her every move from the moment she woke to the moment she went to sleep So when she married Franz Joseph and became Empress and found herself trapped by this system of stultifying rules some of which were so ridiculous as to be unbelievable there was a top secret Imperial Fold of the napkin people that was a uarded state secret passed down orally to only a few living people at a time that s the kind of detail oriented anal retentive system we re talking about her response was to run away So that s what she did through most of her career as Empress And when she couldn t run away she learned to control those few things which hadn t been stripped away from her her toilette and dress her exercise regimen her diet and her corset all of which became near obsessive rituals as the years went on creating a woman who was statue than human But a beautiful statute nonetheless one that became a favorite of newspapers and photographers who documented her every look and action turning her into a fashion icon and her style into the aspiration of thousands of womenIn Sisi Empress on Her Own we see a woman who has lost some of the fragility of the earlier novel who has rown strong from her success in helping creating the Austro Hungrarian dual monarchy who has found fulfillment in raising her third and final child far away from the stifling Hapsburg court a child she s almost smothered with her thwarted maternal feelings And yet this is still a woman who can t figure out how to have a relationship with her two older children who can t figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of the Hapsburg s Hofburg Palace without courting controversy or comment who still hasn t yet come to Beautiful Ghosts grips with the enormity of her role as Empress Pataki brings Sisi to life in all her heartbreaking confounding frustratinglory in a portrayal that s both sympathetic and unflinching in showing Sisi s flaws After all as Pataki says in her author s note Sisi inexplicably stayed out of her son s Crown Prince Rudolf s life even though he displayed the same sensitive high strung temperament as she and would most likely have benefited from a closer relationship Sisi also refused to intervene in Rudolf s marriage to Princess Stephanie of Belgium vowing to be unlike her interfering mother in law Princess Sophie even though she knew the marriage would create only unhappiness on both sides And Sisi never seemed interested in regaining a relationship with her eldest daughter Gisela for what reason as Pataki states we can t know but that lack of interest simply adds to the frustration we feel toward SisiOne of the interesting aspects of the book was watching the descent into madness through Sisi s eyes of King Ludwig of Bavaria Sisi s cousin Ludwig was yet another tortured soul much like Sisi who threw his country into bankruptcy with his reckless building projects which were undeniably magnificent like the remote mountain castle Neuschwanstein but just as undeniably frivolous and into scandal with his strangely intimate relationship with the composer Richard Wagner There is a reason Sisi and King Ludwig II are referred to as the Fairy ueen and the Fairy Tale King as they both seemed to be slightly not uite of this world as if they were perhaps changelings left in place of their mundane copies After Ludwig s sudden mysterious death in 1886 Sisi s life seemed to become one long string of tragedies her father died in 1888 her son Rudolf died in 1889 in the scandalous murder suicide with his lover Mary Vetsera which became known as the Mayerling Incident after the hunting lodge where they were discovered her sister died in 1890 along with Sisi s close friend and rud lover Count Andrassy and her mother died in 1892 Is it any wonder that after Rudolf s death it was rud that Sisi dressed in black for the remainder of her lifePataki s writing is rich dramatic lush confident and an utter joy to read As another reviewer pointed out one finishes this book with a Alexandra, Gone great many What if scenarios running through one s head areat many uestions and a near sadness over the choices made by and made for Empress Elisabeth of Austria Sisi Empress on Her Own is a book that leaves you wondering pondering and wanting to know an. The intensely personal tale of Empress Sisi unraveled The Princess Diana of her time Sisi was famously beautiful a mother of four and the wife of the world’s most powerful emperor Franz Joseph whom she unintentionally stole away from her sister making her reign anything but simple Against the littering backdrop of the Habsburg Court and th.
ALLISON PATAKI is the NYTimes Bestselling author of THE TRAITOR'S WIFE THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS SISIEMPRESS ON HER OWN WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS and the memoir BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES Her work has been translated into than a dozen languages has been featured on The TODAY Show The NY Times The Huffington Post USA Today FOX News Morning Joe and Visit AllisonPatakicom to connec