So, this thing happened this morning. I woke up to find that my historical fiction novel, A LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROWN, book two of #TheCountryGirlEmpressSeries, won the Firebird Book Award in the historical fiction category. Woohoo! First thing I did is get out a bottle of bubbly and danced around the kitchen like a little maniac. I know - sounds totally silly right? But I just couldn't help it! I can't believe my good fortune!
About the book:
The stressful wedding festivities are finally over, and Sisi and Franz Joseph can begin to navigate their lives together. However, fresh challenges await the newlywed couple. When Sisi, the Country Girl Empress, from the Bavarian Possenhofen became Emperor Franz Joseph’s wife, she was only sixteen years old.
The child-woman who is admired everywhere for her beauty and unaffectedness, and who feels most at home on top of a horse, soon realizes that the imperial throne is much more uncomfortable than a saddle, and that it is her highest duty to give birth to an heir. The young Empress finds a great and unfortunately indomitable opponent in her mother-in-law, the Archduchess Sophie, who not only harasses Sisi but also treats her like a child.
No wonder that Sisi’s duel with this overpowering opponent spans years, and gives her destiny a more and more tragic course, which the Empress seeks to escape with her never-ending search for happiness far away from the Viennese court. The political climate throughout 19th century Europe is precarious. Hungary demands its independence from Austria’s rule, but the monarchy cannot afford the loss of Hungary’s resources.
Unable to get help from the French unless Austria attacks first, Sardinia provokes its neighbour with a series of military manoeuvers close to their border. As predicted, the Austrian government demands the complete demobilization of the Sardinian army. When the ultimatum is not heeded, Austria feels it has no other choice but to declare war on Sardinia, thus drawing France into the conflict.
Meanwhile in Vienna, Archduchess Sophie attempts with all her might to teach her new daughter-in-law what it means to be a proper Empress, since the young woman insists on behaving like a tomboy. Even after giving birth twice, Sisi’s standing at the imperial court does not improve, since the long-awaited Crown Prince has yet to arrive. Will the icy atmosphere at the Hofburg Palace, the almost inhumane protocol and the constant rules prove too much to bear for the young Empress?
Piper is the award-winning author of The Country Girl Empress series. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium, and Goodreads.
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