Married at 15 to Emperor Franz Joseph, leader of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Elisabeth, affectionately known as Sisi, was the longest serving Empress of Austria at 44 years until her assassination in 1898. Famous as a great beauty with ankle length hair arranged in elaborate styles and a 19 inch waist. The many tragedies which had an impact in her life include the death of a two year old daughter, the suicides of son Crown Prince Rudolf and his lover, and the mysterious drowning of her cousin "Mad King Ludwig" of Bavaria, builder of Neuschwanstein Castle. The novel attempts to uncover the depth of her life and inner conflicts. Instead of an untouchable ethereal empress, she is depicted as a complex and unhappy woman.