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July 23, 2015 / Leslie

Audio Review: The Accidental Empress

A Rapid Review

AccidentalEmpressThe Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio | February 2015
Format: Audio Download | 18 hours | Rating: 3 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

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.

In the mid 1800s, the Habsburg’s of Austria ruled over a large part of Europe. When young Emperor Franz Joseph is introduced to the woman chosen to be his wife, he instead falls in love with her younger sister, 15-year-old Elisabeth. Against the wishes of their families, Franz Joseph marries Elisabeth. But young Elisabeth was unprepared for what she would experience in Hapsburg Court and the difficult life she was about to undertake.

The author’s detailed account and description of life in the royal court—the lavish feasts, clothing, hair styles, gossipy servants—brought Sisi’s day-to-day experiences to life; however, I never got a real feel for the true historical events. While Franz Joseph and his overbearing mother were pivotal characters, Sisi was the only one I felt was fully developed.

After a little research on my own and discussion with my bookclub (this was our July read), I realized the story was only loosely based on actual historical facts; events were shifted in time to conveniently fit the story line and some were complete fiction. Reactions of the bookclub members were mixed with some liking it a lot and others not so much. For me it was OK, but I thought it could have been better considering the rich subject matter. Historical romance fans should enjoy this more than I did.

Audio production:
There were a lot of characters and more than a few shifts in time and location to keep up with, so attention to time and place is important. The audio was nicely performed by Madeleine Maby with a range of emotion and a captivating voice. [Audio Sample on SoundCloud.] An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
Source: Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.
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Leave a Comment
  1. Mary / Jul 23 2015 2:19 pm

    I read a different book about Sisi last year. She was an interesting person! I’d probably need to read the print due to the time shifts and characters.


    • Leslie / Jul 23 2015 5:47 pm

      It wasn’t too difficult to follow, but it could be confusing for listeners new to audio.


  2. There is definitely a lot of potential with the story line so it’s definitely disappointing that this one didn’t quite live up to it. I don’t know as much about this historical period and location as I should so it does bother me how much fiction is in the historical fiction!


    • Leslie / Jul 23 2015 5:50 pm

      It’s partly me . . . I am often disappointed when historical fiction is actually a historical romance.


  3. Leeswammes / Jul 24 2015 1:30 pm

    I’m never sure about stories with real people in them. If you don’t know enough about the topic, you might get a rather skewed impression of these people. I think I’ll skip this!


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