Sunday 11 September 2022

Book Review: The Empress by Gigi Griffis (Historical Fiction)

Title: The Empress
Author: Gigi Griffis
Publisher: Swift Press
Publication Date: 11 October 2022
Pages: 336
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

The Empress is a dazzling reimagining of the courtship between one of history's most iconic and beloved couples: Sisi and Franz of Austria.

The year is 1853, and sixteen-year-old Elisabeth "Sisi" of Bavaria has been very clear: she will wait for the sweeping, head-over-heels kind of love the poets speak of, or she will have no love at all. It is not her fault Mother refuses to listen. After all, just because her older sister Helene has chosen the line of duty, and is preparing to marry Emperor Franz of Austria, does not mean Sisi also needs to subject herself to such a passionless, regimented existence. Sisi knows there is more to life than corsets, luncheons, and woefully unfashionable dukes . . . if only someone would give her the chance to experience it firsthand.

Meanwhile, in Austria, the Emperor is recovering from an assassination attempt that left him wounded and scared. In a bid to keep the peace, Franz has recommitted himself to his imperial duties-and promised to romance the pliant Bavarian princess, Helene, at his upcoming birthday celebration. How better to unite the country than with the announcement of a new Empress?

But when Sisi and Franz meet unexpectedly in the palace gardens, away from the prying eyes and relentless critique of their families, their connection cannot be denied. And as their illicit conversations turn into something more, they must soon choose between the expectations of the court, and the burning desires of their hearts . . .


I have been interested in Sisi ever since I 'discovered' her through the musical Elisabeth back in the 1990s, and I have read non-fiction and fiction texts about her as well as watching any film/TV versions I come across (including the truly awful recent German-language TV series). I will watch the Netflix one too when it starts, so when I saw this book available on NetGalley I decided to request it, to read it first. This is historical fiction, so naturally the story was highly romanticised. However, I felt it did so within realistic bounds for the time period and setting. The story moved along at a good pace and the text flowed well, so it was easy, relaxing reading. The multiple POVs allowed us to see things from different perspectives throughout and the main characters were all well presented. Overall it was a fun and engaging read, and it leaves me quietly optimistic for the Netflix series. Recommended for lovers of historical romance fiction and those interested in Sisi. I am giving it 4 stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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