Sisi

Empress on Her Own: A Novel

Sisi

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of Philippa Gregory, Paula McLain, and Daisy Goodwin comes a sweeping and powerful novel by Allison Pataki. Sisi tells the little-known story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, the Princess Diana of her time, in an enthralling work of historical fiction that is also a gripping page-turner. Married to Emperor Franz Joseph, Elisabeth—fondly known as Sisi—captures the hearts of her people as their “fairy queen,” but beneath that dazzling persona lives a far more complex figure. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, the halls of the Hofburg Palace buzz not only with imperial waltzes and champagne but with temptations, rivals, and cutthroat intrigue. Feeling stifled by strict protocols and a turbulent marriage, Sisi grows restless. A free-spirited wanderer, she finds solace at her estate outside Budapest. There she rides her beloved horses and enjoys visits from the Hungarian statesman Count Andrássy, the man with whom she’s unwittingly fallen in love. But tragic news brings Sisi out of her fragile seclusion, forcing her to return to her capital and a world of gossip, envy, and sorrow where a dangerous fate lurks in the shadows. Through love affairs and loss, dedication and defiance, Sisi struggles against conflicting desires: to keep her family together, or to flee amid the collapse of her suffocating marriage and the gathering tumult of the First World War. In an age of crumbling monarchies, Sisi fights to assert her right to the throne beside her husband, to win the love of her people and the world, and to save an empire. But in the end, can she save herself? Featuring larger-than-life historic figures such as Bavaria’s “Mad King Ludwig” and the tragic Crown Prince Rudolf, and set against many of Europe’s grandest sites—from Germany’s storied Neuschwanstein Castle to England’s lush shires—Sisi brings to life an extraordinary woman and the romantic, volatile era over which she presided. Praise for Sisi “Pataki successfully juggles numerous political and personal plot lines while maintaining her focus on a fascinating central character. . . . Readers of Pataki’s first book will want to know the rest of Sisi’s story, but this novel stands on its own for historical fiction fans.”—Library Journal “A deeply moving book about a complex character.”—BookPage “A satisfying saga of the late Habsburg period.”—Kirkus Reviews “Pataki brings richness and relevance to the story of the woman who worked tirelessly to protect the face of an empire.”—Publishers Weekly “Pataki simply stuns me with each new book. I savor each page. Sisi is her best yet!”—Kathie Lee Gifford “Readers will enjoy the glorious dilemma of whether to turn the pages swiftly, breathlessly following Empress Sisi from one astonishing, heartbreaking adventure to the next, or to linger and luxuriate in Pataki’s vivid, sumptuous descriptions of the Habsburg court.”—Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker “This entire novel is irresistible—completely impossible to put down! Pataki reimagines the reign of the nineteenth-century Princess Diana in this stunning book.”—Michelle Moran, internationally bestselling author of Rebel Queen “Emotional, exuberant, masterly, Sisi swept me into the glittering, treacherous world of the waning Habsburg empire. A must-read.”—Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe From the Hardcover edition.

The Queen's Fortune

A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire

The Queen's Fortune

A sweeping novel about the extraordinary woman who captured Napoleon’s heart, created a dynasty, and changed the course of history—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife, The Accidental Empress, and Sisi. As the French revolution ravages the country, Desiree Clary is faced with the life-altering truth that the world she has known and loved is gone and it’s fallen on her to save her family from the guillotine. A chance encounter with Napoleon Bonaparte, the ambitious and charismatic young military prodigy, provides her answer. When her beloved sister Julie marries his brother Joseph, Desiree and Napoleon’s futures become irrevocably linked. Quickly entering into their own passionate, dizzying courtship that leads to a secret engagement, they vow to meet in the capital once his career has been secured. But her newly laid plans with Napoleon turn to sudden heartbreak, thanks to the rising star of Parisian society, Josephine de Beauharnais. Once again, Desiree’s life is turned on its head. Swept to the glittering halls of the French capital, Desiree is plunged into the inner circle of the new ruling class, becoming further entangled with Napoleon, his family, and the new Empress. But her fortunes shift once again when she meets Napoleon's confidant and star general, the indomitable Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. As the two men in Desiree’s life become political rivals and military foes, the question that arises is: must she choose between the love of her new husband and the love of her nation and its Emperor? From the lavish estates of the French Riviera to the raucous streets of Paris and Stockholm, Desiree finds herself at the epicenter of the rise and fall of an empire, navigating a constellation of political giants and dangerous, shifting alliances. Emerging from an impressionable girl into a fierce young woman, she discovers that to survive in this world she must learn to rely upon her instincts and her heart. Allison Pataki’s meticulously researched and brilliantly imagined novel sweeps readers into the unbelievable life of a woman almost lost to history—a woman who, despite the swells of a stunning life and a tumultuous time, not only adapts and survives but, ultimately, reigns at the helm of a dynasty that outlasts an empire.

Sissi’s World

The Empress Elisabeth in Memory and Myth

Sissi’s World

Sissi's World offers a transdisciplinary approach to the study of the Habsburg Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It investigates the myths, legends, and representations across literature, art, film, and other media of one of the most popular, revered, and misunderstood female figures in European cultural history. Sissi's World explores the cultural foundations for the endurance of the Sissi legends and the continuing fascination with the beautiful empress: a Bavarian duchess born in 1837, the longest-serving Austrian empress, and the queen of Hungary who died in 1898 at the hands of a crazed anarchist. Despite the continuing fascination with “the beloved Sissi," the Habsburg empress, her impact, and legacy have received scant attention from scholars. This collection will go beyond the popular biographical accounts, recountings of her mythic beauty, and scattered studies of her well-known eccentricities to offer transdisciplinary cultural perspectives across art, film, fashion, history, literature, and media.

The Vatican Princess

A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia

The Vatican Princess

For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, bestselling author C. W. Gortner effortlessly weaves history and drama in this captivating novel about one of the world’s most notorious families. Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized fifteenth-century Renaissance Italy, and Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival? With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, a new era has dawned in Rome. Benefitting from their father’s elevation are the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—each of whom assumes an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, the threat of a French invasion forces him to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood. Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice. What results is a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse. Praise for The Vatican Princess “In a literary exploration riven with Shakespearean quantities of murder, lies, deceptions, and treachery, Gortner’s narrative gains veracity with his atmospheric exploration of fashion, architecture, and art on the stage of ‘loud, filthy, and dangerous’ Rome. Gortner has imagined Lucrezia Borgia’s life from a feminist perspective.”—Kirkus Reviews “[Gortner] has invested his novel with impressive historical detail that is woven neatly into the threads of the story, and his afterword and references offer excellent insight.”—Historical Novels Review “Assiduously researched and expertly crafted, this novel takes readers inside the treacherous world of the Borgias—one of history’s most dysfunctional ruling families—and brings to life the sympathetic and freshly imagined character of their leading lady, Lucrezia. This unholy plunge into Rome’s darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing.”—Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of Sisi: Empress on Her Own “The world of Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life—I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias.”—Alison Weir, New York Times bestselling author of Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen “Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization of these turbulent times make for a fascinating read.”—Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth I From the Hardcover edition.

A Life in the Shadow of the Crown

A Country Girl Empress Novel

A Life in the Shadow of the Crown

The stressful wedding festivities are finally over, and Sisi and Franz Joseph can begin to navigate their lives together. However, fresh challenges await the newlywed couple. When Sisi, the Country Girl Empress, from the Bavarian Possenhofen became Emperor Franz Joseph's wife, she was only sixteen years old. The child-woman who is admired everywhere for her beauty and unaffectedness, and who feels most at home on top of a horse, soon realizes that the imperial throne is much more uncomfortable than a saddle, and that it is her highest duty to give birth to an heir. The young Empress finds a great and unfortunately indomitable opponent in her mother-in-law, the Archduchess Sophie, who not only harasses Sisi but also treats her like a child. No wonder that Sisi's duel with this overpowering opponent spans years, and gives her destiny a more and more tragic course, which the Empress seeks to escape with her never-ending search for happiness far away from the Viennese court. The political climate throughout 19th century Europe is precarious. Hungary demands its independence from Austria's rule, but the monarchy cannot afford the loss of Hungary's resources. Unable to get help from the French unless Austria attacks first, Sardinia provokes its neighbour with a series of military manoeuvers close to their border. As predicted, the Austrian government demands the complete demobilization of the Sardinian army. When the ultimatum is not heeded, Austria feels it has no other choice but to declare war on Sardinia, thus drawing France into the conflict. Meanwhile in Vienna, Archduchess Sophie attempts with all her might to teach her new daughter-in-law what it means to be a proper Empress, since the young woman insists on behaving like a tomboy. Even after giving birth twice, Sisi's standing at the imperial court does not improve, since the long-awaited Crown Prince has yet to arrive. Will the icy atmosphere at the Hofburg Palace, the almost inhumane protocol and the constant rules prove too much to bear for the young Empress?

A Walk on Broken Glass

Elisabeth, Empress of Austria

A Walk on Broken Glass

Born of royal blood, 15-year-old Elisabeth (Sisi) is a free-spirited child of nature with no social graces to speak of when Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, falls madly in love with her. In 1854, as the new Empress of Austria, she is swept into the harsh world of the Habsburg Empire with its power struggles and political intrigues. Elisabeth's mother-in-law is determined to crush her spirit and her husband has a roving eye that never misses the next pretty lady. But Elisabeth is no ordinary woman. In the face of adversity, her determination emerges unbounded and she makes her beauty one of her strengths. While blazing her own path to power and freedom, true love enters her life. A Walk on Broken Glass is a compelling story of Elisabeth's loves, tragedies, and triumphs. Her love of Hungarians brought about her greatest achievement -- helping to influence the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Where the Light Falls

A Novel of the French Revolution

Where the Light Falls

A rich and sweeping novel of courage, duty, sacrifice, and love set during the French Revolution from New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki and her brother Owen Pataki Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled—with the help of the guillotine—and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife and their infant son from a comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. André, the son of a denounced nobleman, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. Sophie, a young aristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle. As chaos threatens to undo the progress of the Revolution and the demand for justice breeds instability and paranoia, the lives of these compatriots become inextricably linked. Jean-Luc, André, and Sophie find themselves in a world where survival seems increasingly less likely—for themselves and, indeed, for the nation. Featuring cameos from legendary figures such as Robespierre, Louis XVI, and Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, Where the Light Falls is an epic and engrossing novel, moving from the streets and courtrooms of Paris to Napoleon’s epic march across the burning sands of Egypt. With vivid detail and imagery, the Patakis capture the hearts and minds of the citizens of France fighting for truth above all, and for their belief in a cause greater than themselves. Praise for Where the Light Falls “Compulsively readable . . . a compelling tale of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and bravery . . . a sweeping romantic novel that takes readers to the heart of Paris and to the center of all the action of the French Revolution.”—Bustle “Succeeds in forcefully illustrating the lessons of the French Revolution for today’s democratic movements.”—Kirkus Reviews “Devotees of Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo will devour this tale of heroism, treachery, and adventure.”—Library Journal “This is a story of the French Revolution that begins with your head in the slot watching how fast the blade of the guillotine is heading for your neck—and that’s nothing compared to the pace and the drama of what follows.”—Tom Wolfe

The Perpetual Traveler

A Country Girl Empress Novel

The Perpetual Traveler

The great monarchies of Europe begin to crumble. From within, they face rebellions and revolutions, while outside forces cause further instability. But somehow the Austro-Hungarian Empire is spared thanks to one woman - Sisi! To escape the constant pressures of stringent court life, Sisi turns into a perpetual traveler and is seldom seen in the capital city. The Emperor, despite his deep love for Sisi, is still unable to break the chains of the strict court protocol, even though it continuously puts their relationship to the test. Just like the late Archduchess Sophie before her, Sisi begins to arrange suitable marriages for her older children to further the Empire's interests and ensure its continuance. The first to fall victim to her schemes is Archduchess Gisela. Then, Crown Prince Rudolph travels with his mother to Belgium to meet fifteen-year-old Princess Stephanie. But will this potential child-bride enflame the Crown Prince's heart, and more importantly, will Stephanie gain the Emperor's approval? And things are also not what they ought to be in Sisi's beloved Bavaria. After repeatedly postponing his wedding with Sisi's younger sister Sophie, King Ludwig finally cancels their nuptials altogether. Rumor has it that his bride has fallen in love with the court photographer. But what is really going on in Munich, and what's the matter with Ludwig? In mid-19th century Vienna, palace staterooms and bedrooms are not only filled with splendor but also with enticements, opponents and merciless conspiracies. Sisi now faces a new set of challenges. Can the beautiful Country Girl Empress weather these storms, or will she become the latest sacrificial lamb on the altar of the all-powerful Danube Monarchy? Other books in the series: THE COUNTRY GIRL EMPRESSA LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROWN

The Accidental Empress

A Novel

The Accidental Empress

The New York Times best-selling author of The Traitor's Wife fictionalizes the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi,” the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.

Beauty in the Broken Places

A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience

Beauty in the Broken Places

“An inspiring, intimate memoir about faith, resilience and the tenacity of love.”—People “In this emotional tale, a young couple see their lives changed in the blink of an eye—and learn to find love again.”—US Weekly Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident—had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night. When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison had lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come. As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation of this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again. This is a manifesto for living, an ultimately uplifting story about the transformative power of faith and resilience. It’s a tale of a man’s turbulent road to recovery, the shifting nature of marriage, and the struggle of loving through pain and finding joy in the broken places. Praise for Beauty in the Broken Places “Bold and commendable . . . A strength of this memoir is [Allison Pataki’s] scrupulous honesty.”—USA Today “A memoir about . . . determination and gratitude, and the value of putting one foot in front of another during a crisis.”—The Washington Post “Heart-wrenching.”—Women’s Health “Powerful and immersive . . . Pataki delivers an insightful look at how two people faced a life-altering test as a team ‘fighting to make the dreams of our future possible.’”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)