In The Mystic Marriage, Vicomtesse Jeanne de Cherdillac tells another character, ‘I have loved—truly loved—only four women. One of them is dead. One never found the courage to say either yes or no. You were the third.’ When I wrote those words, I knew relatively little about those first two women, but I had the first inkling that Jeanne might have some interesting stories to tell. This is not the story of either that first or second love, but of the time between them when grief and regret had not yet been replaced by archness and a cultivated sophistication.