Anne of Brittany, Brittany, Cesare Borgia, Christine de Pizan, Claude of France, culture, female inheritance, female ruler, Francis I, History, literature, Louis XII, Louise of Savoy, Machiavelli, Marie de France, relationships, review, Salic Law
Anne and Louis
Passion and Politics in Early Renaissance France: The First Years of Anne of Brittany’s Marriage to Louis XII (Book Two of the Anne of Brittany Series)
Renaissance Editions: 2018
978-0-9847906-8-5 (pbk) $14.95 Available on Amazon and Ingram
978-0-9847906-9-2 (ebook) $2.99 Available on Amazon
Anne and Louis: Passion and Politics in Early Renaissance France: The First Years of Anne of Brittany’s Marriage to Louis XII will delight readers of historical fiction who want their dramas firmly rooted in facts. This audience—especially those who enjoyed the first
book in the Anne of Brittany series—will find a compelling continuation of the saga in this story of Anne, the Duchess of Brittany, who has a country to run even as her lover Louis has a controversial annulment to pursue in order to fulfill his romance with Anne.
Even more complicated are the politics which dictate their romance and relationship. This is an overlay which creates seemingly insurmountable controversies between the couple and their individual political circles, and is deftly explained by Rozsa Gaston, whose saga assumes no previous knowledge of Anne of Brittany, Louis XII, or French history and politics. This makes the tale accessible to both history buffs and those with a milder familiarity with the era.
At age 21, Anne was both a widow and the ruler of a kingdom, as committed to maintaining Brittany’s independence from France as she was in seeing her relationship with Louis become a bond between their countries.
Their struggles in 16th-century Europe on the cusp of the Renaissance era come to life as Anne finds herself caught between love and country.
Chapters don’t just build the characters and explore the issues between Anne and Louis, but also probe their world. Thus, the romances and relationships between others are also presented within the context of the social mores of their times (“When he looked up, Charlotte of Naples and Aragon was floating toward him in the full glory of her youth and serene beauty. He felt himself in the presence of a goddess. One day such a glorious creature would grow into a woman like his mother or the duchess Anne. For such a woman, an offer of marriage must follow a kiss. But first, a kiss. Her father would kill her; her mother would roll over in her grave. She had allowed him to take her hand.”).
Rozsa Gaston presents a rich, multifaceted universe through the eyes of a number of characters who interact with their world, which she spices with vivid descriptions to bring the setting to life through the eyes, experiences, and thoughts of many: “Anne of Brittany turned her back on her high-spirited charges to climb the final steps to the summit. At the top the flat marshy countryside spread out before her. In the late morning sunlight the bay of Mont-St.-Michel shimmered in the distance like a beckoning jewel. Beyond the bay was the Mor Breizh, also known as the Channel, the body of water over which Brittany’s settlers had traveled from the British Isles. She drank in the view as her lungs filled with fresh sea air.”
Adding to the feel of the story are lovely color artworks and images of the times, which pepper a saga that brings to life Anne’s concerns, her people, her romance, and her conundrums. From her distrust of Italian politics and her appetite for luxury to the impact of her relationship with Louis, yet another powerful strength to this story is its astute assessment of how the personalities of each affected their choices and political perceptions: “Her Louis was too nice a man to be entering into agreements with wily Italians seeking to take advantage of his innate decency. She would protect her husband’s interests while this sharp second secretary remained among them. Louis’ step sounded on the stairs above and all eyes turned. As Anne gazed at her husband’s beneficent expression and handsome yet careworn face, her heart hurt. She knew behind her, the shrewd young Florentine would be sizing him up and determining sooner rather than later that France’s king could be easily manipulated on the Italian peninsula.”
All this means that the story about a changing society as the Renaissance gets started is given a personal touch that brings the entire era to life through Anne’s eyes and the experiences of those who interact with her.
The result is a powerfully-written saga that requires only an interest in a compelling love story and its historical background to prove satisfying, revealing, educational, and hard to put down, all in one. Quite simply, Anne and Louis is a masterpiece that paints an extraordinary emotional and political vision of its times, capturing the facets of a social and political milieu that all too often is regulated to dry facts devoid of emotion.
—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Anne and Louis, Book Two of the Anne of Brittany Series, comes out Nov. 29, 2018. Pre-order here.
To begin your discovery of Renaissance ruler Anne of Brittany, read Anne and Charles, Book One of the Anne of Brittany Series.