Once upon time there lived a young maiden called Ehrengard. She came from a warrior clan. Her carriage–steely, as was her resolve. A Valkyrie, Ehrengard was. One day she was called upon to assist in an act of royal intrigue. A pampered princess with child and a delivery date that doesn’t quite square with her official betrothal, must be hidden away for a time. And said princess will be in need of companionship. Ehrengard will become a member of a select group, chosen to protect the secret of the Crown. She is dutiful in her newfound position, setting aside all judgement. Rather quickly, she will come to enjoy her time with the sequestered princess and her merry court of trusted confidantes and servants. But what Ehrengard doesn’t realize is that she has caught someone’s eye.
The famous painter, Herr Cazotte, has set his sights on the chaste warrior-maiden. A member of the entourage due to his close ties to the royal family, Cazotte ironically may have played an indirect part in the family’s current predicament. See, Herr Cazotte has a bit of a reputation with the ladies. And as a close friend to the much younger prince, Cazotte may have given untoward advice to the naive royal on the ways of love. In the role of captivated reader, I envisioned a ledger, hidden away somewhere, listing Cazotte’s many conquests. But presently, the painter’s focus has shifted entirely to his next victim. For Ehrengard, Cazotte plots an unusual plan of seduction:”I insist on obtaining a full surrender without any physical touch whatever.” With time and attention, Cazotte and Ehrengard do become closer. Never close enough to touch. But an intimacy, of sorts, does develop. Cazotte’s plan appears to be working. But oh, how men so often underestimate their female counterparts! And in this particular case, at least, it’s illustrated with great comedic effect. A light-ish romance with hints of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Ehrengard by master story-teller, Isak Dinesen, is a fun, quick read. A unique spin on the classic fairy tale, filled with creativity and depth of understanding.