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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.
Who was Anne of Brittany?
Her dates: 1477-1514.
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!
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
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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
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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.
Author Rozsa Gaston, be here now, Budapest, career, career and romance conflicts, contemporary romance, dating, Dutchman, Hungarian American woman, Publishers Weekly review, Szechenyi Baths, thermal bath spas, thoughtful romance
Publishers Weekly weighs in on my Dec. 2014 latest release Budapest Romance in its June 22, 2015 issue:
“The traditional healing properties and beauty of the thermal spa baths still enjoyed throughout Budapest are the true stars of this thoughtful romance.”—Publishers Weekly
Budapest Romance is now available on all major online retail sites. Thank you, Publishers Weekly, for this greatest of all honors, a review in the publishing industry’s most respected news magazine.
Readers—for those of you who read and post a short review of my tender romance set in Budapest’s thermal bath spas, I will be delighted to send you an eBook thank you gift of your choice of any of my other books.
Enjoy and stay playful. —Rozsa Gaston
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Many authors, when looking for subjects of the most emotional value, turn inward to their own lives as a jumping off point. And that’s just what Greenwich’s Rozsa Gaston has done in her latest novel.
In Black Is Not A Color (Unless Worn By A Blonde), Ms. Gaston writes of a young woman reconnecting with her father after many years of estrangement. In this story, Ava Fodor is a woman with a thriving career and a budding new romance who was not raised by her father only to find herself having to take care of him over the course of the final year of his life. Despite not knowing her father, and having all the resentment and confusion that comes with that, Ava finds herself drawn to the eccentric Transylvanian/Hungarian man with his passion and zest for life even as it slips away.
“It doesn’t start that way, but this is a book that ends up being about elder care,” Ms. Gaston told the Post in an interview last week. “That’s not a very sexy subject, but it is an extremely topical one and this is definitely a book for Baby Boomers to read and also for those younger than Baby Boomers who are going to be facing this down the line. This is about caring for an aging parent who didn’t raise you as a child. That changes the conversation. Her relationship with her father is she’s just discovering him for the first time as a 30-year-old woman and he’s from a completely different culture.”
Ms. Gaston indeed drew from her own relationship with her father for the book but only in a loose way. It might be the genesis for the story, but it quickly goes in its own direction.
“My father was a Hungarian/Transylvanian refugee from the 1956 Hungarian uprising and I did not get to know him until I was older,” Ms. Gaston said. “I met him when I was about 16 and I wanted to work through feelings about our relationship. Writing the book ended up being a wonderful eye opener for me to realize how much my father actually did give me and how satisfying it was for me that when he did die I did the right thing. I might not have done the best job of doing the right thing, but I knew I did the right thing. I wanted to share that journey and writing this book allowed me to develop a deeper appreciation for my father.”
In the book, while Ava finds herself trying to relate to someone she doesn’t know and who comes from an entirely different cultural frame of mind than she has, she also has to struggle with the feelings of abandonment she has always had toward her father while finding herself drawn to him and his unique style. The more she learns about him the more she relates to her father which makes things even more difficult and that’s before life further complicates her romance…but to find out more you’re going to have to read the book which is available at Amazon.com and can also be ordered from Rozsagaston.com.
“The great thing about this book is that there’s progress between Ava and her father and the reason there’s progress is that her father is very forgiving,” Ms. Gaston said. “He didn’t parent her and she’s his only child so he didn’t parent anyone and he knows he was not a father at all. So he forgives her for whatever she says to him and how she acts toward him. He just wants to get to know her because he does love her and always has loved her.”
This book, which was first released in March, is a sequel to Paris Adieu, which had Ava living as an au pair coming of age in Paris. The romance between Ava and Pierre that began in the first book is a major theme in this new book. Ms. Gaston is quick to compare her lead character to widely known characters like Bridget Jones or Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City in that she’s no saint and can be a complicated person, but is someone readers want to root for.
“As soon as I finished Paris Adieu, I realized that Ava took on a life of her own and that I owed it to her to continue her story,” Ms. Gaston said. “And I owe it to her now to also continue her story through another book if not more.”
That book is still in the planning stages but Ms. Gaston is eager to get to work. A driven writer with several books to her name, Ms. Gaston said she loves to think ahead. Her next book, Sense of Touch, is inspired by the famed The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries at the Cluny Museum in Paris. No one has ever definitively sourced who the women are in those tapestries, which date back to the 1490’s, and this story is a historical fiction exploring that mystery.
However that story might have to wait until 2015 as Ms. Gaston is planning on having her sequel to Black Is Not A Color done by the fall.
“I can’t stop and I don’t want to,” Ms. Gaston said. “The projects keep coming to me one after the other.”
But she will stop long enough to sign copies of her book this week. Tomorrow, May 23, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Doncaster pop up boutique at 219 East Putnam Avenue in Cos Cob, Ms. Gaston will be on hand for a book signing. Details below.