"A wonderful historical novel centered firmly on the parallel lives of the 19th-century devoted cousins King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Elisabeth ('Sisi') of Austria. (Did any of you see 'Corsage'?) Each of them was beautiful, incredibly charismatic, utterly self-absorbed, sometimes exasperating but sometimes tragic, a rebel against the constraints of their royal destinies (while indulging in the privileges to the fullest), and engaged in a hopeless struggle to find meaning and fulfillment in life. I require historical fiction to be not only superbly written but to have real respect for the known facts; 'Empty Theatre' passes all my tests and more. I have been a proud 'Sisi-boy' since age 17, and admired Ludwig's fantasy castles for almost as long. This book might have been written specifically for me.
Publication Date 2023-02-21
Section New Hardcover - Fiction / All Staff Suggestions / Fiction Suggestions / Alan H.
A wildly over-the-top social satire reimagining the lives of royal cousins King Ludwig II and Empress Sisi, from the incomparable Jac Jemc.
History knows them as King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Elizabeth of Austria, icons of the late nineteenth century who died young and left behind magnificent portraits and palaces. But to each other they were Ludwig and Sisi, cousins who shared a passion for beauty and a refusal to submit to the roles imposed upon them.
Ludwig, spoiled and punished for his "unmanly" interests, falls hard for the operas of Richard Wagner and neglects his state duties in the pursuit of art. Sisi, married at the age of sixteen to her beloved Franzl, bristles at the value placed on her beauty and the expectation that she ravage her body again and again in childbirth. Both absurdly vain, both traumatized by the demands of their roles, Sisi and Ludwig struggle against the ideals they are expected to embody, and resist through extravagance, petulance, and frivolity.
A tragicomic tour de force, Empty Theatre immerses readers in a rarefied, restrictive world where the aesthetics of excess belie the isolation of its inhabitants. With wit, pathos, and imagination, Jac Jemc takes us on an unforgettable journey through two extraordinary parallel lives and the tenuous friendship that linked them.