Oct. 14, 2017
Set in France, beginning in 1497, this is the story of Nicole St. Sylvain and Philippe de Bois. Fifteen-year-old Nicole serves Anne of Brittany, Queen of France as one of her ladies. There she meets Philippe, a young horse trainer, breaking in one of the queen’s stallions. The attraction between the two is immediate, but Nicole and Philippe have only a brief time to love before duty and honor separate them.
The daughter of a wealthy merchant, Nicole awaits an arranged marriage to a man of a noble family. She loves the queen and will do her duty even though she has given her heart to Philippe. She has a gift with healing herbs and a touch that heals, both horses and people. After the loss of many of her babes, the queen finally gives birth to a healthy girl. When the child falls ill, she asks Nicole to help. The queen has promised to grant one favor to any who can save her child.
The history is woven into the story and you are swept into the 15th and early 16th century and to the court of Queen Anne and all she endures trying to bring a child into the world. It’s as much Anne’s story as it is Nicole’s. Anne is an independent young woman who makes her own way in a rigid world. Philippe manages to rise in a society that affords little opportunity to do so.
For fans of historical romance that love the history, this will be a great choice. There are some repetitions that slow the pace a bit, and the ending comes quickly, but still, it’s a wonderful story, beautifully told.
“A striking story.”—U.K. Historical Novel Society
“Well written, well developed characters and accurate historical information make this book a winner.”—Helene Furst, Morning Beans Blog
“Thoughtful and well crafted, with a plot that runs seamlessly through delightful prose. A lovely historical tale.”—CK
Friends, readers, and Anne of Brittany fans,
Medieval historical romance Sense of Touch has been nominated for a prestigious RONE Award, with voting open for two days more only. If you would vote for my book, it’s FREE and you will help my tale of Anne of Brittany become discovered. When you register to vote, go to the Historical: Ancient 16th Century category and scroll down to Sense of Touch – Rozsa Gaston, 9th down on list. Click on link below to vote and thank you.
Anne of Brittany and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts and hope that spring will unfold for you with extra beauty this year for the moment you took to vote for Sense of Touch. May the best book win!
Author Rozsa Gaston
Post a review of Sense of Touch on Amazon or Goodreads.com and receive one of any of Rozsa Gaston’s other books free.
Thank you, dear reader, for helping me put the story of the fascinating and little-known Anne of Brittany on the map. Her dates? 1477-1514. Ruler of Brittany at age eleven, she married the King of France at age fourteen. Anne of Brittany was the only woman in history to be twice crowned Queen of France. Discover her story in Sense of Touch.
Anne of Brittany, Aquarians, Aquarius, Chateau des Ducs de Nantes, Chateau Royal Amboise, Early Modern History, ermines, European culture, European history, French history, French queen, historical romance, life, Loire Valley, Medieval, Nantes, Renaissance, Renaissance queen, royalty, Sense of Touch, Touraine, Women in history, women of history, Women's History Tags: Amboise
Who was Anne of Brittany?
Her dates: 1477-1514.
- Decidedly feminist.
- Delightfully feminine.
- Highly educated.
- Raised to rule over Brittany.
- Lavish in her spending.
- A bookworm.
- Lovingly conscientious to her husbands, both kings of France.
- Faithfully conscientious to her Breton subjects, over which she ruled from the age of eleven.
Ever since picking up Mildred Allen Butler’s book on Anne of Brittany a few years ago (Twice Queen of France: Anne of Brittany. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1967), I’ve been fascinated by this French queen who came to power at age eleven as ruler of Brittany, then became queen of France at age fourteen.
Anne of Brittany’s travails trying to bring live children into the world rival any woman’s in history. This girl/woman went through the wringer as a mother. Her fourteen pregnancies resulted in the survival of two children, both daughters.The rest? Three miscarriages, five stillborn infants, one son dead after three hours, one daughter dead after one day, another son lived three weeks, her longest living son survived to age three when he succumbed to measles. As a public figure, this queen’s drama played out on the stage of all of France. If I had made this up, readers wouldn’t believe it. But it’s all true, and carefully historically documented.
I began to wonder why Anne of Brittany’s story is not well known. Many modern women share the same secret heartaches their medieval and ancient sisters suffered: pregnancy loss, inability to bring a live child into the world, inability to keep a child alive once born. Women still struggle with these issues and still suffer in silence when pregnancy and childbirth loss occurs. My heart aches for every one of them.
I wanted to bring alive Anne of Brittany’s tale for modern women, may of whom share her story in suffering and in courage. At the same time this brave woman endured continual personal tragedy she achieved great success as queen of France. She provides the world with an exceptional model of fortitude and resilience in the face of great personal suffering. Brava, Anne of Brittany!
- Anne of Brittany ruled over the most sophisticated court in Europe.
- She helped usher in the glories of the Renaissance from Italy to France. She ran the first finishing school for young women of noble birth, educating them in book learning and estate management and supplying or supplementing their dowries when they married.
- Both of Anne of Brittany’s husbands were madly in love with her. Neither considered putting her aside despite her inability to produce an heir for the throne of France. Her second husband, Louis XII of France, died less than a year after her death at the age of thirty seven. It was said that he never recovered from her death.
- Anne of Brittany was renown all over Europe as a matchmaker. Rulers of other European countries, including King Ferdinand of Spain after his wife Isabella’s death and the king of Hungary sought her advice in choosing a suitable spouse for them.
I could say more, but I’ll save it for the sequel. Anne of Brittany: Girl Who Ruled a Country should arrive in early 2017. Meanwhile, please join me in discovering the remarkable historical figure of Anne of Brittany in my new release Sense of Touch.
Author Rozsa Gaston
asthetics, Balmain, Black is Not a Color, Christian Dior, Costume Institute, elegance, exhibit, Harold Koda, Jackie Kennedy, Jacqueline de Ribes, Jacqueline Onassis, Marlon Brando, Metropolitan Museum of Art, remarkable women, Richard Burton, Rozsa Gaston author, shaken but not stirred, The Art of Style, The Westchester Guardian, Yves St. Laurent, zeitgeist
The Impeccable Hauteur of Jacqueline de Ribes
By Rozsa Gaston for The Westchester Guardian, Dec. 10, 2015
“Elegance. It’s an attitude. A frame of mind. An intuition, a refusal, a rigor, a research, a knowledge. The attitude of elegance is also a way of behaving.”—Jacqueline de Ribes
Gift yourself this holiday season with a visit to see Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s latest exhibit. The impeccable hauteur of Parisian designer Jacqueline de Ribes is on display now through February 21, 2016 in a dazzling exhibit featuring 60 haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles from her personal archive, dating from 1962 on. The clothes are gorgeous, unfussy, and vibrantly colorful. But the exhibit’s focus on Jacqueline de Ribes’ life and imprint on the zeitgeist of international fashion is the takeaway that will make a permanent impression on those with a thirst for refinement of both spirit and manners.
There are Jacquelines, then there are Jacquelines. A notable few are known for their style, such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. But the ne plus ultra of style goes to Jacqueline de Ribes, a Frenchwoman who defines grace and chic for all times. Unflappable sangfroid? she has it; the rest of us want it.
One can see the “intellect, rigor, and discipline that went into creating each dress,” exhibit curator and Costume Institute director Harold Koda observed in his remarks at the exhibit’s press opening on November 17.
One can also see these qualities in the ramrod straight posture and firm upward thrust of the chin of international style icon Jacqueline de Ribes in the exhibit’s many photos and photo montage show.
Designer, fashion leader, theater director, television and movie producer, patron of the arts, wife and mother, she was also a crack sportswoman in her younger years. A French aristocrat, de Ribes exercises discipline to present the best version of herself to the world at all times– qualities also seen in the top echelon of blue-blooded American society.
Jacqueline, Countess de Ribe’s long-limbed litheness provides the framework for the carefully thought out performance art she exhibits in every public appearance. Born on Bastille Day, July 14, 1929, she grew up in the highest circles of French society. Upon exiting convent school, she married Vicomte Édouard de Ribes in 1948 and emerged as an international style icon during the 1950s. In 1956 she came to the attention of the international stage by making the International Best Dressed List; in 1962 de Ribes was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, where she remains.
After years of wearing haute couture by favorite designers Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Pierre Balmain, Jacqueline de Ribes began her own line in 1982. She found little support among her own social circle, with her family objecting that “an aristocratic woman doesn’t enter commerce.” Her husband finally gave his blessing, but said, “you have to raise your own money.”
She came to New York and did. Why was she able to succeed in New York and not in Paris?
Jacqueline de Ribes’ “biggest support was in America: that was because her lines were very clean. There is a lucidity, a clarity about what she does,” explains Koda, who spent the past year working with Countess de Ribes on her Met exhibit. The flow and lack of fuss of the clothes on display in the exhibit are notable. Her mindset was modern. She chose daytime outfits she could work in. “I am not a lady who lunches. My suits have to move. My clothes have to be comfortable. I have to be able to work,” she says.
Certain photos of Jacqueline de Ribes in one-on-one encounters with celebrities captured in the photo montage at the exhibit’s entrance are worth the visit alone. Marlon Brando appears bedazzled by Countess de Ribes as she warmly greets him. Richard Burton looks captivated as she offers him an embracing smile atop a sharply jutting chin while Elizabeth Taylor peers helplessly on; the mix of alarm and envy on her face: priceless.
“As a person she’s incredibly seductive,” Koda remarks, describing how she leans in toward her conversation partner, speaks in a soft silvery voice, and touches her throat from time to time in an “it’s just the two of us” gesture. Again, Jacqueline Onassis comes to mind.
“Does anyone want to be elegant rather than sexy?” Jacqueline de Ribes fretted to Koda while they worked together on preparing the exhibit. Most emphatically, yes. In Countess de Ribes’ own words, “The art of being sexy is to suggest. To let people have fantasy.” So timelessly true.
Jacqueline de Ribes reflects the indomitable hauteur of Paris: shaken, but not stirred. Run, do not walk, to see Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. You will come away with straighter posture, a higher tilt to your chin, and a heightened sense of self-possession after immersing yourself in the life and clothing design choices of this exquisite woman.
Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style exhibition is on view from now through February 21, 2016 at the Anna Wintour Costume Center of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at E. 82nd Street, New York, New York 10028.
Rozsa Gaston is a Bronxville author who writes playful books on serious matters. Women getting what they want out of life is one of them. Her novel Black is Not a Color is the story of Manhattan woman Ava Fodor’s quest to balance a new U.N. job and new French boyfriend while caring for her ailing Hungarian father in the final year of his life. Midwest Book Review calls Black is Not a Color “A compelling, entertaining, and deftly crafted read from first page to last.” Black is Not a Color is available on amazon.com in paperback, eBook, or audiobook editions.
Anne of Brittany, book, daughters versus sons, European culture, French history, French queen, History, hot, Kindle Scout, Louis XII, medieval French history, publishing campaign, Renaissance, ruler, Salic Law, trending, women of history
Sense of Touch is burning up the Hot & Trending list of Kindle Scout nominations for the second week of its one month campaign to receive a publishing contract. Why?
Readers want to know more about Anne of Brittany.
Anne of Brittany is a fascinating historical figure about whom almost nothing has been written in English. Her dates? 1477-1514. She reigned as Queen of France after Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) and before Catherine de Medici (1519-1589).
This week I uncovered a poignant painting of her with husband Louis VII by court painter Jean Pichore. The name of the painting says it all: Douleur du Roi sans Fils. Translation: Sorrow of the King without Sons.
Before you feel sorry for Anne of Brittany, don’t.
She may not have brought a son to adulthood, but she succeeded with two daughters, Claude of France, and Renée of France. Claude of France married Francis I, known as the Renaissance King, and produced Henry II, another important Renaissance king and husband of Catherine de Medici.
Anne’s Breton blood found its way into the French royal bloodline through her daughter, not her sons. Her leadership skills, authority and self-confidence have informed French women ever since. Long live Anne of Brittany, vive Anne de Bretagne!
Speaking of sons, she had many. All of them either stillborn, dead hours after birth, weeks after birth, or by age three.
Let’s take a look at the full Jean Pichore painting of Anne of Brittany with second husband Louis XII.
We see Louis XII, King of France, looking sad. The man behind him looks at the queen with a recriminating expression, as if to say, “Why can’t you produce a son for France?”
We see Anne of Brittany, Queen of France looking regal, confident, not sad at all. Defiant, in fact. Why?
Sadness of the King without Sons, Jean Pichore, c. 1503
Who’s in the hot seat here? Anne.
Who’s the power on the throne? Anne.
Who’s appealing to whom? Louis and his court are appealing to Anne.
Who’s the boss? Anne. She was also a loving and deeply beloved wife to both of her husbands, Charles VIII of France before Louis, and Louis XII of France.
The more I learn about this French Renaissance queen, the more I fall in love with her.
Anne of Brittany is an amazing historical role model for girls. She invited young girls to her court where she educated them, taught them household and estate management skills, arranged marriages for them and paid for their dowries. More about this in my next blog post. Please nominate my book about her here.
Keep Sense of Touch on Kindle Scout’s Hot & Trending list until campaign ends Oct. 20. It’s FREE to vote and if Sense of Touch is selected for publication you will receive the eBook free.
I can’t wait to share more with you about Anne of Brittany, one of the Renaissance’s most important queens.
Author Rozsa Gaston
Amazon, Anne of Brittany, Brittany, Charles VIII, Claude of France, Duchess of Brittany, Europe, European history, France, French Queens, Kindle Scout, Louis XII, Medieval rulers, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Salic Law, Sense of Touch, women of history, women's issues, women's self-identity
Sense of Touch is coming soon. My seventh and latest novel is based on the life of Anne of Brittany, twice Queen of France. Her dates? 1477-1514.
Sense of Touch has been chosen by Kindle Scout for a 30-day pilot program to see if readers get interested in this story. If the book receives enough nominations by Oct. 19, 2015, it will be chosen for publication by Kindle Press. That’s a very big deal. Why? Worldwide distribution.
Here’s the link to nominate Sense of Touch for publication. It’s free, and if Sense of Touch gets picked up for publication, you will receive a complimentary advance copy. I will include your name on my acknowledgments page if you let me know you voted. Thank you.
Why am I excited about Anne of Brittany? This remarkable woman, Duchess of Brittany in her own right, and twice Queen of France due to marrying well, lived exactly at the convergence of the Middle Ages with the Renaissance. What does that mean?
Quick answer: Goodbye, Middle Ages. Hello, Renaissance.
To put it in a nutshell, it means goodbye to collective identity and hello to self-identity. My writing platform is all about self-identity, as in how do women achieve their own? Then, how do they hone it through the years as professional and family obligations conspire to obliterate their special je ne sais quoi?
Anne of Brittany did a great job of maintaining her own sense of self. Her motto? A ma vie, to my life. It takes a confident woman to have a motto like that.
Here’s the gist of Sense of Touch.
NICOLE SAINT SYLVAIN serves at the court of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France, in 1497, at age fifteen. Working with horse trainer Philippe de Bois to heal the Queen’s stallion, she shows an aptitude for diagnosing horses’ ailments through her sense of touch. Soon she has fallen in love, but not with the man her father has chosen for her. Duty pulls Nicole and Philippe in different directions and Nicole becomes a wife, mother, then widow while immersing herself in the healing arts. When Anne of Brittany begs her to save her infant daughter, Nicole works alongside a physician from the South whose reputation for healing began with his work with horses. Will Nicole succeed in saving the Queen’s daughter? And if she does, will the Queen reward her with the greatest desire of her heart—marriage to the only man she has ever loved?
ANNE OF BRITTANY inherited the Duchy of Brittany at age eleven upon her father’s death in 1488. Three years later she married Charles VIII and became Queen consort of France. Instrumental in introducing new techniques of architecture and craftsmanship from Milan to France, Anne of Brittany ushered in the Italian Renaissance to France. By age twenty-one she had buried her husband and all four of her children. Within nine months she became wife of the new king, Louis XII. Pregnant fourteen times, seven times by either king, she raised two children to adulthood. Both were daughters.
She is known as the first female ruler of France to bring together young women of noble birth at court, where she educated and trained them, then arranged appropriate marriage matches. A ruler of influence, refinement, and resources, she rose above personal loss with dignity and grace while espousing the cause of women’s advancement. Her story is for women everywhere.
I would be delighted if you would click here to nominate Sense of Touch for publication. You’ll find an excerpt from Sense of Touch too. Enjoy and thank you.