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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 Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry. Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, "Sisi," Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister's groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead. Thrust onto the throne of Europe's most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world. With Pataki's rich period detail and cast of complex, bewitching characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into one of history's most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Hapsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved "Fairy Queen."
For readers of Philippa Gregory, Paula McLain, and Daisy Goodwin comes a sweeping and powerful novel by New York Times bestselling author 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.Advance praise for Sisi "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"Delivers on all fronts: intrigue, love triangles, deception, heartbreak, and triumph. This is a wonderful read."--Deeanne Gist, internationally bestselling author of Tiffany Girl "The tumultuous world of mid-nineteenth-century royalty comes to stunning life in this sweeping novel."--C. W. Gortner, internationally bestselling author of The Vatican Princess "Pataki resurrects the unforgettable Empress Elisabeth in a rich and exquisite tragedy of passion and heartbreak--a true tour de force."--Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway's GirlFrom the Hardcover edition.
A riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America's most infamous act of treason . . . Everyone knows Benedict Arnold--the Revolutionary War general who betrayed America and fled to the British--as history's most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold's co-conspirator, Major John André, who was apprehended with Arnold's documents in his boots and hanged at the orders of General George Washington. But few know of the integral third character in the plot: a charming young woman who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it. Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold's age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as military commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride's beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she hides a past romance with the handsome British spy John André. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former love and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Arnold. Told from the perspective of Peggy's maid, whose faith in the new nation inspires her to intervene in her mistress's affairs even when it could cost her everything, The Traitor's Wife brings these infamous figures to life, illuminating the sordid details and the love triangle that nearly destroyed the American fight for freedom.