Always on the lookout for an excellent book choice, librarian, Nancy Fort, recommends an historical fiction, The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki.
I came across this book while viewing a webinar about cross-over and cross-under titles. A cross-over title is a book written for a younger audience that also appeals to an older audience, think Twilight. Similarly a cross-under book is written for an older audience but may also appeal to a younger audience. Accidental Empress is an adult fiction book. It is a hefty 495 pages long.
It’s about Empress Elisabeth the wife of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and takes place in the 1850’s. Where is the cross-under appeal you ask? Well to start, Elisabeth or “Sisi” as her family calls her is only a teenager when she travels to Austria to meet her cousin Franz Joseph who is betrothed to her sister. Her sister has no interest in marrying Franz Joseph and Sisi, who is naturally more gregarious than her sister, wins his heart.
The real life Elisabeth was the Princess Diana of her time. She was extremely stylish and took credit for many of the fashions of the day. Her personality won her the adoration of the people. Her story is fascinating. She was not prepared to lead a royal life but faced the challenge and became a very popular public figure. It is tempting to romanticize Elisabeth’s life but the novel does present some of the obstacles she may have faced in reality such as a disapproving mother in law and a philandering husband. Elisabeth matures from a headstrong young woman to a clever political partner of the Emperor over the course of the novel. A transformation made even more amazing considering the prevailing attitude of the time that a woman’s role was in the home as wife and mother. I encourage you to read this book and find out more about this remarkable historical figure.