This is not a simple book. Masterly written, each word weighted with care, it’s in the form of the diary of Constance-Otilia-Alexandrine, Princess of Anhalt-Welf, who accepts a dynastic marriage with Constantine-Leopold, Prince of Askanier-Hortz. The diary last from May 20, 1764 to November 27, 1764, no long indeed, and it starts barely two weeks after the marriage. As often happened at the time, Constance didn’t really know her soon to be husband, he was a family acquaintance, but he had a title, and a good position, and Constance’s guardians accepted his proposal. No-one asked Constance, but even if they did, Constance would have said yes, since that is what was expected from her. As it was expected of course to bear her husband’s children, if not for the issue that her husband hates all women. And he doesn’t hide it to Constance, arriving even to propose her to have an intercourse with his steward, and distant cousin, to satisfy her female instinct, and why not, to procreate an heir to their combined distanies.
That is one point that made me wonder about this novel. The character of Constantine is not exactly positive, he is very cold and distant, and while he doesn’t mistreat Constance, he is far from being friendly or welcoming. Nevertheless, I didn’t find him unpleasant, and I think neither does Constance. In a way, she is upset he is not interested in making theirs a real marriage, even if, don’t get me wrong, Constance is not in love with Constantine. I think she is more outraged, and she feels like he deceived her, since that was not the supposed agreement.
Constance is a cultured woman, and she has no prudery; she is not really upset when her husband proposes her to have an affair with Sylvain, I think that, if Constantine was willing to make it something permanent, she would have even agreed. I don’t think Constance wants a love marriage, but for sure she wants what she has the right to have, and I think she will manage to obtain it, in a way or the other. I’m pretty sure that, of the two, it’s Constance who is the stronger, and in the long run, she will be the one with the power.
Complex story, complex writing style, but if you have the patience, and the courage to start it, I think you will find this is a very original insight in an uncommon era and setting for a novel.http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/168036
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle