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
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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.
Party with Moms interviews Rozsa Gaston today as their Mom of the Week. Read here and if you enjoy, sign up for the Party with Moms weekly newsletter. http://partywithmoms.com/party-with-moms-interviews-rozsa-gaston-prolific-author/
Imagine my delight when I realized that Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales were terribly tickly, not to mention positively ribald in parts! Not some old, moldy, medieval stanzas, but colorful, naughty and well worth the effort to make out the Olde English words.
Here’s first twelve lines of the most sensational poem written about April I’ve ever come across. Enjoy!
WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the fleur;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
So priketh hem nature in hir corages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.
Excerpt from Black is Not a Color
“Did you sleep?” Narcisa whispered to me as the owner of the male voice headed toward the nearest silver-tray-carrying waiter to capture two glasses of white wine for us.
“Did I what?”
“Did you sleep?” she asked again.
“Yes. I slept well, thank you” I answered confusedly. Did I look tired to her?
“You don’t have to tell me who it was. But tell me—who was it?”
“Uh—it was me. I mean I slept well. Didn’t you?”
“Ohhh no. I didn’t sleep. I had friends who helped me,” Narcisa whispered back, one eyebrow lifted significantly.
“Ohhh, I see. Uh—no I didn’t sleep. I—uh- took the tests last spring and they called me the beginning of August.” Startled by the conversational curveball, I stepped back from Narcisa, still intrigued but alerted that I had no idea who I was dealing with. The U.N. was on international territory. American rules no longer applied.
“The tests. Everyone takes the tests. So what? How did you get the job?” she pressed.
“Like I said, I took the tests. That was it. I waited, I gave up hope, then they called.” I shrugged in what I hoped was the classic Gallic way, perfected by my recent stay in Paris.
Narcisa studied me as I spoke. It was like taking a lie-detector test. Suddenly I felt as if I’d slept even when I hadn’t.
“So you just took the tests and they called you. That was it?”
“Yes,” I said, crisply. I tried to look like I wasn’t lying, even when I wasn’t. It was confusing talking to Narcisa.
Black is Not a Color © 2014 by Rozsa Gaston
Excerpt from Paris Adieu:
In Paris, people-watching was an art form. Jean-Michel was a discreet observer of public conduct and style, unlike my friend Elizabeth, who was unabashedly snide in her commentary on the failings of other human beings, with her snarky British wit. I enjoyed time with Elizabeth until invariably I felt as if I were participating in some sort of vivisection of poor, hapless strangers who really weren’t all that inferior to us. But with Jean-Michel, I learned a great deal from his restrained commentary on the people around us. He wasn’t so much judgmental as he was instructional. Now, he motioned to a woman with henna’d hair standing next to a man in line.
“Look at the woman there,” he said in a low voice. “You see her scarf?”
I glanced in her direction, pretending to survey the crowd as I caught sight of the long black, white, and gray scarf loosely slung around her neck.
“Yes. What about it?”
“That’s how to wear a scarf.” He sniffed.
“I mean everything like that. The black and white is chic but would be too severe without the gray. The design is not too busy. And the way she wears it shows she knows how good she looks in it. The scarf has made her jacket come alive.”
I’d never had a conversation like this with an American man.
“It is chic, isn’t it?” I agreed.
“Right. That’s what I meant,” I corrected myself, chasing away a tiny cloud of irritation. His fussiness annoyed me but he had a point. Who cared about a piece of clothing? It was the person who wore it who gave it whatever value it possessed. I wondered how I’d do in a black, white, and gray scarf. Immediately, I vowed to look for a similar one then practice draping it in the mirror.
The point in life…is to find equilibrium in what is inherently unstable.~Pierre Reverdy from Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
Reverdy was a dear friend of Gabrielle Coco Chanel. Handsome, independent, a trifle brutish, he appealed to the peasant woman buried deep inside the exquisite Chanel.
Find out more about bad boys in my latest book Black is Not a Color, sequel to Paris Adieu. Out in audiobook, it’s the story of Ava Fodor’s struggle to care for her father while cultivating her relationship with her new French boyfriend Pierre. Not a bad boy. Too good for Ava, in her mind, in fact.
Ava is not the only grown up child of a parent who didn’t raise her. There are many men and women with such a tale out there. Coco Chanel was one. If Ava’s idol Chanel could get beyond a rough start in life, so can Ava. So can you.
Listen to Ava’s story in Black is Not a Color and take inspiration. Move out of the shadows of a less than ideal childhood and take your place in the sun. Coco Chanel is your lodestar. And Ava’s story in Black is Not a Color will help you find the hero within yourself.
aging parents, career, chicken paprikash, contemporary romance, culture, dating, elder care, Elizabeth Taylor, Fellini, free book, Hungarian culture, Hungary, Jackie Onassis, Judith Krantz, New York, personal growth, romance, Scruples, self-discovery, United Nations, women's issues, Yale
“When my father said black is not a color unless it’s worn by a blonde, he wasn’t just talking about the color black or women who were blonde. He was talking about the animus inside the packaging—the spirit inside the body, the woman inside the dress.”—Rozsa Gaston, Black is Not a Color
When Ava Fodor returns to New York from Paris, she leaves behind her budding romance with Pierre and turns her attention to another man: Zsolt Fodor, her father. He’s a penniless Hungarian poet transplanted to New York in the wake of the failed 1956 Hungarian uprising. Raised by her New England grandparents, Ava barely knows him. Dramatic, effusive, emotional, he’s everything her grandmother warned her against. Yet his crazy conversation fascinates her. His chicken paprikash isn’t bad either.
Pierre’s pull draws Ava back to France, to the medieval walled city of Carcassonne. There, his tender care of his ailing mother awakens Ava to something lacking in herself. Unless she finds it, she can’t give him her heart.
When her father has a heart attack, Ava is thrust into a caregiver role, looking after a man who never looked after her. She’s terrible at it. So was her father, so he forgives her. But can she forgive him? Until she learns to love the man she has every reason to abandon in his hour of need, she can’t move on. Only her father can show her the way. But will she let him? And if she can, will it be too late for Pierre and her?
Praise for Black is Not a Color
“Imagine if Judith Krantz had been a history scholar at Yale when she wrote Scruples. If this idea appeals, you are likely to be engaged and fascinated by Black Is Not A Color. The book is at once witty, smart and touching. It will make you want to devour chicken paprikash and then go shopping at a chic Manhattan boutique with your best girlfriend. A sensitive delineation of family dynamics and some wonderful insight into geopolitical geography.”
—Jane Stern, author of The New York Times bestselling Elvis World, Roadfood, and many other books on food and popular culture
“Rozsa Gaston takes us on another delicious adventure through France and
beyond. Sexy, thrilling, and deeply moving, Black is Not a Color has everything
you’d want in a novel, plus lots of spice, specifically paprika.”
— Jamie Cat Callan, author of French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, Bonjour Happiness! and Ooh La La!
“Readers will be delighted, intrigued and entertained by Black Is Not a Color. This enjoyable continuation of Ava’s worldly tale, begun in Paris Adieu, is full of vibrant characters with great chemistry. Gaston writes this story with intelligence, emotion, creativity and heart.”
—Laurie Weiner, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT
“Heartwarming, romantic and sexy, Black is Not a Color touches upon friendship, romantic relationships and the strength of familial bonds. This moving read for sophisticated readers evokes both a desire for European travel and a renewed appreciation for my hometown of New York City.”
— Meredith Schorr, author of Just Friends with Benefits and Blogger Girl
—Atessa Helm, film producer, script and story consultant