You guys, this is my favorite kind of book; a historical fiction novel. I was ecstatic when Susan Appleyard sent me In a Gilded Cage to review. It’s the tale of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I. If you love some real facts with a touch of fiction, then this is a book for you.
Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers
Genre: Historical Fiction
Elisabeth, referred to also as “Sisi”, begins her life as a Duchess of Bavaria, living a fairly carefree existence during her early years. However, her days of informal living comes to an abrupt halt when she learns that she is to accompany her sister Helene to court in order to see her married off to Emperor Franz Joseph. But, Franz is drawn to Sisi and declares that she will be his bride.
The story highlights Sisi’s trouble fitting in the Habsburg court, where standards of living were stifling and her mother-in-law completely domineering, if not a down right nasty toll of a woman. Thankfully, Franz seems besotted with his wife, promising her everything the world has to offer and not pushing for her to consummate the marriage on the first night. But, he has a country to run and Sisi is often left alone, or in the clutches of her monster-in-law, who tries to mold Sisi into the perfect Empress. At first, it seems as if Sisi will eventually adjust to life at court but, as time goes on, things just become more terrible, save for one beacon of hope, Count Andrassy.
When it comes to historical novels, it’s hard to say if you’re giving out spoilers, or not, as everything is available online and in books. But, as I’m not as familiar with the Austrian royal family, this book was largely new to me, as it might be to you, so I won’t go too in depth about the story Appleyard regales us with. Although, I do wish the book went on to show Sisi’s entire life, as filling in the blanks with Wikipedia is just not cutting it for me. So, hint-hint, Appleyard, part two would be greatly appreciated. A quickly-paced plot and easy reading makes it a perfect historical fiction for first time readers.