The Accidental Empress by Allison Pateki #Review

Posted February 26, 2015 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 16 Comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pateki #Review
The Accidental Empress

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Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Simon and Schuster
Released on February 17, 2015
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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This was a case of deep curiosity about a captivating historical figure that I’ve only vaguely caught glimpses of up until now. Upon seeing a new to me author had tackled the story of Empress Elisabeth ‘Sisi’ of the Austrian Empire, I decided that I wanted to try a new author and learn more about Sisi. As the author pointed out, Sisi’s real life was the stuff of fiction in many ways. The author impressed me with her ability to tell a compelling story that relied heavily on fact, but in such a way that Sisi and the characters surrounding her were brought to life in living color- weaknesses, hopes, flaws and triumphs.

The story begins with Sisi’s life as a girl at home with her parents and siblings then going with her older sister and mother when her aunt has sent for Helene to be presented as the bride for their cousin Emperor Franz Joseph of the Holy Roman Empire. It is there that Sisi innocently falls in love and frustrates the plans and hopes of many when a vivacious beauty of fifteen captivates the heart of an Emperor. All that follows tells the story of a young woman who is caught up in a life that she can barely understand let alone handle. While her husband wields power that controls the fate of millions, Sisi fights private battles to gain even a piece of his attention, to thwart her powerful mother in law, and to be valued for herself. Her life is not idyllic, but she learns through all she encounters and gains her own moments of triumph and power as the favorite of the common people and the person most influential in protecting the unity of Austria and Hungry.

I was engaged in the story from the beginning. It starts out like the stuff of fairy tales, but unlike the ending of a fairy tale, the wedding to her emperor is just the beginning for Sisi. I liked the honesty in the storytelling. It is all from Sisi’s point of view, but though I felt sympathetic toward Sisi, I was still able to see where she played a role in how things turned out in the estrangement from her husband and children. She experienced love, loss, disillusionment and the beginnings of love again. It was the Victorian era and a person with Sisi’s nature found it hard to conform to the norms of duty and rigid adherence to norms. Austria’s court was the most formal and grand in Europe and she came from a small backwater German duchy with few limitations and rules placed on her. Her husband was her opposite and so I found it so interesting how they got on and I liked how the possibility that Count Andrassy presented was handled. I was grateful that the author spotlighted Sisi’s life without seeming to miss the pivotal moments.

Sisi’s life is pretty romantic, but she also lived in changing times. She herself mostly focused on her own personal sphere, but the book doesn’t leave out what is going on around her. These are the waning years of the great empire of the Hapsburgs that stretched across most of Europe and is now being whittled down as countries and peoples seek autonomy, as new alliances are made and as the unification of Germany spells World War on the horizon. It is also a time of great poetry and music which are highlighted by Goethe, Strauss, Liszt and other artists. I thought it was interesting how the voices that influenced Franz Joseph in politics and world affairs were given voice too. So not just the story of a woman, but of a time in the past.

The set up was an interesting choice. Each chapter began with a segment from later in Sisi’s life leading up to her coronation day as Queen of Hungary. I was also taken with the way quotes from Goethe’s poetry streamed through her life and tied her story together.

My only real niggle was that I felt the book ended abruptly. It was a high point of her life to be sure, but only the mid-way point too. I hope the author plans another installment which she hinted is a strong possibility. There was also the inclusion of an enlightening Q&A section and detailing of sources used.

All in all, this was a superb read and I would recommend it for Historical Fiction lovers of Central Europe leading up to WWI as well as Historical Romance fans who want something a bit more authentic, but still a fascinating if doomed romance.

My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Literary Pickers #75 Secretary

Romance Roundabout #73 HR

Historical Fiction #10

Historical Romance #21

New to Me #41 author

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Mary Kirkland
Guest

Great review. I don’t read many historicals these days.

Sophia Rose
Guest

I read a ton of Historical Romance, but this year I was determined to fit in a few romantic Historical Fictions to learn about people, places or times I wasn’t familiar with. It’s been fun.

kimbacaffeinate
Guest

aaaand I want it. That is all.

PA DePaul
Guest

*clapping hands* so happy to hear! 😀

Sophia Rose
Guest

I read a ton of Historical Romance, but this year I was determined to fit in a few romantic Historical Fictions to learn about people, places or times I wasn’t familiar with. It’s been fun.

Anna@herding cats&burning soup
Guest

I was looking at this one the other day and it really did look fascinating. That’s a shame about it ending so quickly. Hope you get that second book!

Sophia Rose
Guest

It was fascinating. It started like a fairy tale and then it was a bittersweet romance with her eyes open (he kept mistresses and his mother was a nightmare) and then she had a chance at her own real romance which was when it stopped. I do need the second half of her story. 😉

Lover Of Romance
Guest

Wow, I haven’t heard of this one. But I really like the setting, so different and it sounds like it a enjoyable one. I am not sure I would like the ending though.

Sophia Rose
Guest

That’s just it. I think the ending might be more of an intermission type of thing. At least I hope so. I want more Sissi and the Count.

kimbacaffeinate
Guest

This one is new to me Sophia, but I love all the deets and the romance sounds captivating.

Sophia Rose
Guest

I thought so too. Now I want to read her other book, The Traitor’s Wife, about the wife of Benedict Arnold.

Lover Of Romance
Guest

oh looks like I gotta have this one….I like your description of Lou. Great review hun.

Sophia Rose
Guest

Thanks, Renee! I had a good time with story. It had a different feel for a PNR.

Kimberly Caffeinated Reviewer
Guest

This one is new to me Sophia, but I love all the deets and the romance sounds captivating.

Lola R
Guest
Lola R

When I saw this book it reminded me about a cartoon series about Sisi that I watched as a kid, I loved it back then. She’s an interesting historical figure. This sounds like an interesting book and like the author stayed true to the historical facts. Great review!

Sophia Rose
Guest

Oh that’s cool! I didn’t know there was a cartoon. I remember vaguely a trilogy of movies that were not made in English that I hope to see soon now that I’ve read the book.

Lola
Guest

When I saw this book it reminded me about a cartoon series about Sisi that I watched as a kid, I loved it back then. She’s an interesting historical figure. This sounds like an interesting book and like the author stayed true to the historical facts. Great review!

Sophia Rose
Guest

Oh that’s cool! I didn’t know there was a cartoon. I remember vaguely a trilogy of movies that were not made in English that I hope to see soon now that I’ve read the book.

Sharonda
Guest

im not a fan of abrupt endings, but this sound really really good. Gonna have to check it out and I love the face that its based on someone’s real life.

Sophia Rose
Guest

The real life story is what grabbed my attention too, Sharonda. I’m not sure, but I’m hoping that she will tackle the last half of Sissi’s life. I really want to know what happens with her and the Count