Sisi: Empress on Her Own is a fictional work by talented author, Allison Pataki, however it is clear that the historical research undertaken by the author has been both extensive and passionate. That passion for both history and her characters is clear in her writing and both Sisi and her smaller characters are concise and incredibly visual.
I was unaware before I began writing this review that there was a prequel to this book, called The Accidental Empress, so it is clear that this is a very successful stand alone book, although I will definitely be getting my hands on the first in the series soon!
Pataki’s second book, Sisi: Empress on Her Own follows the Empress of Austria-Hungary’s adult life. This isn’t a simple story however. This is a book of an extraordinary life and contains all the joys, pains, life, death and emotions that we all experience through decades of genuine living. Sisi endures heartache, love and loss, and with Allison Pataki’s extraordinary writing, the reader is drawn into the drama with ease.
I have enjoyed many books on historical women and their lives, and I love how strong and independent Sisi is portrayed during a time where women were not encouraged to tend to their own happiness. Sisi’s need to find a place to call home, her travels and her struggles to bond with the children she rarely gets to see really pulls on the heartstrings. Throughout the book, Sisi reaches barrier after barrier that historical society dictated, but she deals with these issues in her own, almost rebellious manner. Pataki, however cleverly enables the reader to delve into Sisi’s private thoughts and the concerns she secretly holds close to her chest, further encouraging that vital link between character and reader.
When we meet Sisi, she is finding royal life increasingly difficult with a young infant daughter, Valerie, that she is determined to raise outside of court. During Sisi’s travels we meet a collection of bold characters and visit an amazing array of places. Left behind at court are Sisi’s older children and her rigid husband, Franz, who encompass their own problems whilst meandering their way through royal life. This book offers a fascinating insight into a life that many would perhaps wrongly envy.
Do not expect a flouncy, romantic historical novel with this. It is an accurate account of how difficult a life in this type of situation may have been. Beautifully written and a thoroughly fascinating insight into history and a woman whose strong will and refusal to live a life unworthy of herself is the real heart of this story.