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Peekskill Native Allison Pataki Publishes New Book About Habsburg Family

Allison Pataki has just published her book about the Habsburg family.
Allison Pataki has just published her book about the Habsburg family. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Allison Pataki

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- First, she explored Benedict Arnold's wife. Now former Peekskill resident Allison Pataki has turned her attention to Eastern Europe.

Pataki, daughter of former Gov. George Pataki, who lives in Garrison, just published her latest book, "The Accidental Empress." The book is a follow-up to her debut historical fiction novel, "The Traitor's Wife," which came out last year and was about Benedict Arnold's wife, Peggy Shippen.

"The Accidental Empress" is set in 1853 and is about Sisi, an Austro-Hungarian empress and wife of Emperor Franz Joseph who was plucked from obscurity at the age of 16 and was thrust onto the throne in the golden era of the Habsburg Family.

"She was the last great empress," said Pataki. "She was charismatic like Marie Antoinette meets Anne Boleyn meets Catherine the Great."

Pataki drew inspiration from the book when her family, who is of Hungarian-American descent, took a trip to Hungary.

"I kept seeing images of this beautiful young woman all over," said Pataki. "She's in gift shops; looking at you with this quizzical smile. She's Princess Diana times 100."

Pataki started asking people about her and became hooked on her story, which, in her book, goes right into the beginning of the first shots of World War I.

After reading about Peggy Shippen, Pataki joked she would never find another woman in history she would enjoy writing about more...until she discovered Sisi.

"History is juicer than fiction," Pataki said. "I could not have found a more interesting or romantic backdrop."

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