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The Accidental Empress

(Sisi #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  14,000 ratings  ·  1,516 reviews
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 R
Hardcover, 495 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Howard Books
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Ami Nope. The Accidental Empress and Sis: Empress on her Own go together, but the Traitor's Wife is a separate novel. …moreNope. The Accidental Empress and Sis: Empress on her Own go together, but the Traitor's Wife is a separate novel. (less)

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Jan 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
Edit: April 4/4/15

A 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 got wrong about the real empress!). She very kindly
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction buffs
As a lover of royal historical fiction, I find that many books in this genre focus on British royalty, especially regarding the Plantagenets and the Tudors, so I was quite excited to read about this fascinating woman, Elisabeth, Empress of Austria-Hungary, whom I had first learned about after reading my daughter's book Elisabeth of Austria: The Princess Bride (from the ROYAL DIARIES series) several years ago that focused on this specific royal.

Allison Pataki's writing is thoroughly detailed, no
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had more fun reading the wikipedia article on Sisi. Historically it was noted that she was an eccentric and probably suffered from an eating disorder as she was obsessive about her weight and her hair. It was also said that she was so traumatized by her wedding night that she wouldn't leave her chamber for 3 days. Pataki's story makes it sound as though she were a frustrated lover. I would have preferred the facts rather than the fiction. ...more
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
Intricately plotted, Pataki’s latest is engrossing and incredibly real. Readers will find themselves immersed in Sisi’s tumultuous, troubled life and will be awed at how much of this is directly from history books. Although long and only the beginning of the story, prepare to feel as if you have actually been transported back in time.
In 1853, Emperor Franz Joseph is in need of a wife to better rule the Habsburg Empire. Duchesses Elisabeth “Sisi” and her older sister Helene travel to the court so
Historical Fiction
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

*** NOTE: This review contains spoilers. Please take heed and proceed at your own risk.

An ARC of Alison Pataki’s The Accidental Empress sat on my kindle for nearly two years. Howard Books granted me a copy sometime before the novel was released in February 2015, but the first chapter of the book left such a bad taste in my mouth that despite multiple attempts, I was unable to reach chapter two. I’ll grant that Maximilian wa
Ghost of the Library
**some minor editing was done**

Have you read anything about the real Sissi? Then stay away from this one - this is fiction, just fiction! (and the bad kind).

What makes for a good historical novel/historical romance?
Now there´s the 1 million dollar question that will maintain endless discussions on the matter!
For me personally, a good historical novel merely gives life to the character, without ever disrespecting proven/documented facts - meaning, authors don´t get carried away too much, and i ge
BAM Endlessly Booked
Duchess Elizabeth, or Sisi, is the second daughter of a Duke of Bavaria, given little education in court etiquette or book subjects. When her older sister, Helene, is invited to the Hapsburg court to meet their cousin, Frank, Sisi tags along and steals the show (and his heart).
The stage is set for a fairy tale romance except for a few factors: Sophie, his overbearing mother; the constant demands of the Hapsburg kingdom; and a bit of philandering. Sisi's heart is broken and she spends time away f
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Adding another country (or two) to my World of Literature year. What a wonderful read. I knew almost nothing about the Hapsburgs and found Elisabeth’s life both fascinating and sad.

Hard not to see her marriage through my 21st century lens, but what a life she led. Married at 16 to Emperor Franz Joseph, she was unprepared for all that followed. The author did an excellent job of showing different sides of Sisi as she grew up and into her role as wife, mother, and most importantly, Empress.

No spoi
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club-read
This is a romance novel posing as an historical fiction novel. This novel was a book club pick, which I would have never read if not for that. It’s one of the reasons I’m in book groups: read novels outside of my genre. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. I’m not a fan of romance novels. This novel would be a perfect novel for a romance novel lover who wants to expand into historical fiction.

The author, Allison Pataki used historical information to base the events on the life of Empress Elizab
The drama that unfolded in Empress Elisabeth’s life kept me interested until the last word. Pataki’s writing is magnificent, weaving in quotes from Shakespeare and Goethe, the details were extraordinary. I could picture the castles, hills, gowns, and jewels from the vivid imagery provided by the author.

The best historical fiction versions I have read about this fascinating woman’s life. Full review on my blog:
This book was a slow start for me. For the longest time, I was stuck below 13% done. But once I hit my stride, I fairly flew through this novel. The author has a real knack for putting her reader’s right into the time period and making them breathe the environment, not just read about it. The imperial Hapsburg court with its rigid protocols, the bucolic wonder of rural Bavaria, and the wonders of 19th century Hungary all come to wonderful life. I definitely have to give the author credit for the ...more
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written and pulled the reader into the lives of the Emperor and Empress along with the people they dealt with like the Archduchess Sophie who really ticked me off. This was well worth my time and I can't wait to dig into Sisi for the continuation of the story of Sisi/Elisabeth/Elisa. ...more
Absolutely loved this novelization of the (early) life of Austrian Empress Elisabeth. The author does a phenomenal job of immediately pulling the reader into Sisi's life and she makes the young empress imminently likable and relatable despite her grand life and many faults. I already purchased the follow-up. A must-read for fans of Philippa Gregory and historical fiction in general. ...more
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 wa ...more
Taylor Caitlin
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, I had to shelf this book as a "did not finish" at 51% (and more than 7 hours of kindle time, I might add!). This book is long. And boring. I pushed through the first half because the beginning is actually semi-interesting. The book starts with the story of Bavarian duchess Elisabeth, who travels to Austria in order to support her older sister Helene who is betrothed to the Emperor of Austria, Franz Jose
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
The Accidental Empress is Allison Pataki's second novel. Her debut was The Traitor's Wife.

The Accidental Empress is a sweeping historical novel about the life of Elizabeth "Sisi", duchess of Bavaria that marries Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has a very difficult and heartbreaking life. There is very little silver lining for her.

What I enjoyed about this novel was the phenomenal detail. I could picture the castles, hills, gowns and jewels from the vivid imagery provided by the author. I feel I've vi
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having visited Sisi 's palace on Corfu two years ago in Greece, I was really looking forward to reading this book. The tour we took through her palace was led by a guide who was supremely well informed, and made Sisi come alive for us as we explored the beautiful rooms. Alison Pataki has done the same with her characterization of this fascinating, yet sad, woman.

For a 16 year old girl to marry an Austrian Emperor and all that it entails to become an Empress must have been exactly as difficult as
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Sisi, otherwise known as Elizabeth, has grown up as the daughter of a Bavarian duke, but she's grown up in an unconventional way. She's free to roam around outside, ride her horses, and partake in other "un-lady" like activities. When her older sister, Helene, is summoned by the Hapsburg Court in Vienna as a possible love-match to their cousin, Franz Joseph, their lives change forever. Helene is not interested in becoming an Empress. She is shy, a bookworm, and wants to be a nun. But when the Em ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I get why people who don't know anything about the Habsburgs might like this but I basically had to force myself to finish it because there were just so many things that were inaccurate but hey at least this book turned me into a huge fan of Archduchess Sophie who was a strong woman and did not deserve to be portrayed like this.

Sophie and her husband could have reigned the empire together but they refrained in favour of their son and subsequently she became his most important advisor wh
Lacy Lynch
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"I love those who yearn for the impossible" (Goethe) so it is no wonder I love this book, which attempts (and achieves) the impossible in bringing Empress Sisi's tragic, beautiful contradictory life to the page. In full disclosure, I am Allison Pataki's agent. I am also an avid reader, and I am unbiased when I say that Allison Pataki strikes gold again with this beautiful book about the last Austria-Hungarian Empress. I recommend this book because Allison so accurately and emotionally captures a ...more
Jeanne Adamek
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After a slow start I really got into this novel. I live in Vienna and, of course, I have heard about Sisi, seen Schönbrunn and even visited the Sisi museum in the Hofburg and read some of the poems that she had written. Why do I mention all this? Because although this book is a novel Allison Pataki wrote so passionately that Sisi was alive.

Oh, there were mistakes. Small ones, not really historically important. Ms. Pataki made assumptions that I didn't always agree with, but as a whole I found th
Empress Elisabeth is such a fascinating figure, it was only a matter of time that someone wrote a book about her.

And just like her fabulous debut novel, Allison Pataki has written an engrossing, engaging and compelling novel about one of the forgotten royals of history. Elisabeth was never supposed to be Empress, but she ended up in a role that, frankly, she was never ready for.

Fuller review to come soon!
Small Review
Originally posted at Small Review

I already read the Royal Diaries installment on Empress Sisi, so I knew all about her early romance with Franz and how she became the "accidental" empress.

Sadly, the Royal Diaries book ended right when things were starting to get good (as they so often do) and so I was hoping Allison Pataki's book would dive deep into all the post-wedding drama.

Because, oh boy, Sisi's life is PACKED with drama! She had an evil scheming mother-in-law. She dealt with wars, revolts,
Kaffeeklatsch and Books
Finished my re-read and I feel like the second time around it was way more sad and depressing. Sissi had to go through A LOT and I wouldn't have wanted to swap with her 😳 ...more
I wish it was shorter
The Accidental Empress proves Allison Pataki is not a one-hit wonder; this woman is here to stay and, my goodness, does she have stories to tell! As with The Traitor’s Wife, I savored every chapter, relished over every paragraph when I normally would race to the end. Here, however, I took my time and when I finally finished (only four days later – and to be honest, I’m surprised I finished that quickly: this is a big book that demands a lot of attention) I felt hollow. I wasn’t ready to let go a ...more
Katelyn Collison
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received the sequel to this book, Sisi, as an ARC, and was asked to be on the launch team for its release (later this week!) But I obviously wanted to go into it more prepared, so I ordered and read this novel first.

AND IM GLAD I DID. Historical fiction is one of my beloved but often forgotten loves. They are to me what chick lit is to so many other women. And I learn things too! How fun! This book was really cool because I had never read anything about this part of Europe, or even much about
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great example of how well researched and written historical fiction can help add the context to history that is completely missed in history classes in school.

The parts describing her restricted relationships with her children hit me particularly hard—I read this while nursing my month old and could not fathom the anguish of what she went through.
Jul 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
I have never read about the Austrian Empire but love all things royal. Wow! I loved The Accidental Empress. I flew through the almost 500 pages and immediately started the next book, Sisi: Empress on Her Own.
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-reads
After hours tromping around Budapest and walking the halls of the Parliament building, I wanted to read something that was set in or involved Budapest. I managed to read this in my afternoon downtime.

The Accidental Empress is enjoyable and occasionally engaging, though I do feel the author allows characters to fill stereotypes/caricatures to make them more relatable and possibly de-complicates them to advance the plot, so it's not a significant or important read. Very lighthearted historical fi
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Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, has been featured on The TODAY Show, The NY Times, The Huffington Post, USA Today, FOX News, Morning Joe, and more.

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Other books in the series

Sisi (2 books)
  • Sisi: Empress on Her Own (Sisi, #2)

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