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History’s blueprint: the story behind Allison Pataki’s Sisi, Empress on her Own

Originally published by the Historical Novel Society

4405C646-9718-4281-A21A-DB1CBA47BD97-3The sometimes fraught question of how much fact there ought to be in historical fiction is one that engages readers and writers alike. But Allison Pataki found, tackling the life of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, that history offered up so much ‘delicious and dramatic story’ that she would be foolish not to let the facts closely guide her as she built her narrative.

Following on where she left off in The Accidental Empress, in Sisi, Empress on her Own, Pataki follows the Empress Elizabeth – known as Sisi – through her adult years, beginning in 1867 with the Hungarian Coronation and establishment of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. Having married Emperor Franz Joseph when she was only 16 years old, Sisi has battled with her domineering mother-in-law over control of her own children and found love and freedom away from Vienna, in the Gödöllo Palace in Hungary. But she is an Empress, famous for her floor-length hair and skills as a horsewoman, and this is a time of dramatic shifts and changes for European monarchies. Sisi, now in her thirties, cannot avoid her responsibilities forever.

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