How are things going? Have you read something good this week or did you read something that disappointed you? If it´s the first: congrats! Its amazing to find good books. If it turned out to be the second option, I am sorry, but I get you.
In the December Wrap Up I told you about Sissi Empress on Her Ow by Allyson Pataki. I don’t know if you remember this, but this book disappointed me. However, I am bringing you the review in case you want to check it out.
Truth to be told I was dying to read this book, mostly because of 2 reasons: I am deeply fascinated by everything related to the empress of Austria-Hungary a. secondly, because I found the fist book in this duology, Sissi The Accidental Empress, to be fascinating. You can check my review of the first book by clicking on its title.
This duology tells us the story of the empress ever since she first meets Franz Joseph until she died. And guys, don’t freak out because I am not making any spoiler, as this happens 120 years ago; in fact, this September will be the 120 anniversary of the death of the empress.
Sissi Empress on her Owns picks the story something like a year after we left The Accidental Empress. We see her as a young mother, happy enough in Hungary until she receives a later. In the letter she is told how her son Rudolf is being educated by a brute and abusive teacher, so Sissi decides to get back to Vienna with the condition of being in charge of her son´s education. Since that moment Sissi renounces to her “freedom” and we follow her as she battles with the meanest courtesans in Vienna.
As I have already said this book disappointed me, and it was a huge disappointment, not a little one. While in the first book I was deeply captivated by the story within the first few pages in this case I wasn’t invested. However, is not a problem with the events which I consider to be extremely interested. My problem was with the writing style. While in the first book the writing was engaging in this book make me take distance form the characters and not empathise with them as much as I would have liked.
One of the biggest issues that I had was that the author tries to tell a extended period of time in very little space. Whereas the first book has something like 500 pages and we follow a period of 10 years, this book is shorter and tells a longer period, something like 35 to 40 years. Because the longer period and the shorter book there are many interesting scenes that are quickly dispatched. However, I don’t feel like I need a longer book or even a third book to make a more even division of the periods in the empress life. In the first book the historical context and the political situation was explain through the characters and in this book, all is written in long boring paragraphs.
I still finding Sissi fascinating. I think that she was a woman that was, truly, ahead to her time. I a way she was a rebel: she disobeys her husband in a time where obedience to men was completely mandatory, and if you husband was the emperor moreover. However, I didn’t felt that while reading this book as I did reading the first one. In this book she felt plain and like a puppet at times.
I felt that Sissi was a rebel due all the criticism that she received on a daily bases. That criticism come not only from court, but from the journalist and at times from her own family, as it is the case of her mother in law. Of course, it´s pretty obvious that she might not have been the best mother of the entire world, especially with her 3 first children but it´s not like she was allowed to be a mother. But my point is that I felt rather mean to blame her for the death of both Sofia and Rudolf.
Another think that I feel like in need to mention, and that actually is rather well portrayed in the book, is the relationship between Sissi and Franz Joseph . they were married when they were kids, I mean I am 22 now and cannot imagine being married (let alone have children) for a few more years. However, Sissi was pushed to get married when she had just turned 16, whereas Franz Joshep had 23. Of course, it was another time and things were done differently and it´s not like Franz had a job that any 23-year-old would have nowadays, but still. For what I have read, not only from these books, they had a complicated relationship as they married being in love (supposedly) and eventually began to hate each other, and finally became friends and come to some short of agreement, and even respect the other. Nevertheless, from everything I read about them which is quite a lot, I´ve come to the conclusion that the emperor was indeed in love with his wife, as it proves, among other things, how he did as much as he could to make her happy throughout all of her travelling and how he reacted when he learned about her death.
I feel like instead of talking about the book I am talking about the life of the characters, and I apologise for that. It´s just that I am very passionate about this period of history, as I am pretty sure you can tell for my way of talking about it.
Back to the book, other of the things that disappointed me a great deal was the fact that it was close to nothing about the beauty regime of the empress. This I think, was one of the most interesting things about her, as she was deeply bossed with her beauty and staying young for as long as possible. I mean, she was consider to be the most beautiful woman of her time.
The best thing about this book are the last 3 chapters. Those chapters are written with the same quality that made me fell in love with the first book. It was devastating to read how Sissi had to deal with the lost of almost everyone she loved, and I think the author make a fantastic job allowing us to empathise with Sissi. Those 3 chapters I mention are the reason why I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars, the rest of the book is just worth 2 stars.
See you all in my next post!