If you think nobody can beat Britain’s royals for scandal and intrigue — get ready for Sisi, the empress whose family once ruled most of Europe and is now the subject of a sizzling historical novel by Allison Pataki.
"Sisi and the Hapsburgs are the most fascinating, dramatic, dysfunctional ruling family you could ever meet — and yet we know so little about her here," Pataki told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"Sisi was the last great empress of the Hapsburg Empire, the family that ruled most of central Europe right up to World War I … that declared the war that started World War I. It was such a hugely significant family, which is still playing out in history today, still having effects."
Pataki’s book, "The Accidental Empress: A Novel,"
published by Howard Books, follows the life of Sisi, the Austro-Hungarian empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.
Her tale begins as Franz Joseph, looking for a wife, crosses paths with 15-year-old Elisabeth, "Sisi," Duchess of Bavaria, who is visiting the Hapsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the emperor.
Sisi falls for and wins his heart, causing Franz Joseph to renege on his earlier proposal and declare his intention to marry Sisi, who must grapple to keep the love of the emperor and her new empire.
Pataki — daughter of former New York Gov. George Pataki, who’s now mulling a 2016 presidential run — said she became interested in Sisi’s story following a family trip through Eastern Europe.
"Pataki is a Hungarian name, so 10 years ago my family and I were traveling through all of the former Hapsburg lands. We went back to the old Pataki farm in Hungary, through Austria, through the Czech Republic, and I kept seeing images of this striking young woman, Sisi," Pataki said.
"I did a little digging to know why she, still to this day, is venerated … What I found to be true is history is juicier than fiction and the more layers I pulled back, the more fascinating it got. It is not your typical fairy tale.
"She was never supposed to be the empress. So the circumstances of her life and her reign and the period over which she and her husband ruled right up to World War I is a really interesting — and I hope through historical fiction — a fun way to learn."
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