Posts Tagged ‘Sense of Touch’

Who was Anne of Brittany?


Anne of Brittany’s portrait on wall of Chateau Royal Amboise

The only woman to have ever been crowned twice queen of France, Anne of Brittany became Brittany’s ruler at age eleven, upon the death of her father.

Her dates? 1477-1514. Born deep in the night at the Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes, Brittany, on the night of January 25, her hour of birth is unrecorded. My guess is the firstborn child of Francis II of Montfort, Duke of Brittany, and his wife, Marguerite de Foix, was born after midnight, putting her birth date at Jan. 26, 1477.

Her personality?

  • Delightfully feminine.
  • Decidedly feminist.

Lucky in love, unlucky in childbearing, she was a woman who ruled with authority while winning the love of two kings and the admiration of all Europe.


Anne’s birthplace of the Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes, France

Brittany at the time of Anne’s birth was a duchy to the west of the kingdom of France. The kings of France had their eye on obtaining this fertile and affluent territory for France. Anne’s life story is largely the story of her struggles to maintain Brittany’s independence. Did she succeed? With first husband Charles VIII of France, no. With second husband Louis XII of France, yes.


Map courtesy of Stephane Berne’s Secrets d’Histoire series, Anne de Bretagne, deux fois Reine

Discover French queen Anne of Brittany between the pages of Sense of Touch, a fictional love story, set in her court.


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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. 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.Yet 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-era sisters suffered: pregnancy loss, inability to bring a live child into the world, inability to keep a child alive once born. Women continue to struggle with these issues, suffering 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, many of whom share her story in personal grief and in courage. At the same time this brave woman endured continual personal tragedy she achieved great success as queen of France. She offers the world a model of fortitude and resilience in the face of enormous personal suffering.

  • Anne of Brittany ruled over the most sophisticated court in Europe.
  • She was the first European royal to wear lingerie, specifically brassieres.
  • 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.


    Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany in an idealized 15th century diptych: Charles was not this handsome, Anne was not this ugly

  • 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 first husband, Charles VIII of France, was mad about her despite cheating on her throughout their marriage, as was typical for kings in that age. 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.

    Douleur du Roi sans Fils by Jean Pichore, c. 1503

    Louis XII asking Anne of Brittany why the daughter she has given him is not a son. Anne giving her husband a look. Painting by Jean Pichore, c. 1503

  • Anne of Brittany was renown throughout 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 suitable new spouses.

Enjoy discovering the remarkable historical figure Anne of Brittany in Sense of Touch.  And look for its sequel in 2017, Anne and Charles: Arranged Marriage, Renaissance Romance.

Happy birthday, Anne of Brittany, fierce Breton duchess and twice queen of France,

Author Rozsa Gaston







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Anne of Brittany was born on January 25 or 26, 1477, in Nantes, France. She was born deep in the night, the time of birth unrecorded. Please join me in celebrating her entrance into the world on this day.


Image of Anne of Brittany courtesy Nurycat, Deviant Art

Anne of Brittany’s sun sign? Aquarius. Her personality? Strong.












big spender



From Stephane Berne’s Secrets d’Histoire on Anne of Brittany








big spender

More on this fiery French queen tomorrow. Meanwhile, happy birthday to my favorite Aquarian, the fair Anne of Brittany, twice queen of France.


Statue of Anne of Brittany at entrance to her birthplace, Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes, France


What wine would I choose to celebrate Anne of Brittany on her birthday?


The ermine was the emblem of Brittany, small and fierce like Brittany’s ruler Anne

A fine Vouvray from the Loire Valley where she spent her adult life, first at Chateau Royal Amboise, then at Chateau Blois. As soft and light as the climate of the Touraine, Paul Buisse’s 2015 Vouvray Chenin Blanc makes an excellent choice. $13.99 a bottle.

Bon anniversaire, chere Anne de Bretagne,

Author Rozsa Gaston


Statue of Anne of Brittany at the Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes, France

















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Image of Anne of Brittany courtesy of Nurycat 2006

Anne of Brittany? 515 years ago today she married Charles VIII of France at Château de Langeais.The only woman in history twice crowned queen of France.

Duchess of Brittany at age 11, she became queen of France at age 15.
A woman of fiery temperament and champagne tastes, she suffered enormous personal loss. Her political marriage to the king of France to end war between Brittany and France became a loving one, ending in his death at age 27. Within eight months she married his successor, Louis XII, and was again crowned queen of France.
Discover her in medieval historical romance Sense of Touch.
“Sense of Touch adroitly blends fact with fiction. Well written this work will resonate with lovers of history and romance alike.”—Jenerated Reviews
“A striking story.”—Historical Novel Society
“A mesmerizing story eloquently told with a brilliant dialogue.”—Duncan Whitehead, bestselling author of The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club










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Rozsa Gaston - Author

Detail of Anne of Brittany by Jean Bourdichon, c. 1503Sense 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 her.

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).

Douleur du Roi sans Fils by Jean Pichore, c. 1503Douleur du Roi sans Fils by Jean Pichore, c. 1503

This week I uncovered a powerful and 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 a Son.

Before you feel sorry for Anne of Brittany, don’t.

Claude of France Claude of France, eldest daughter of Anne of Brittany and Louis XII

She may not have…

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Interview with ‘Paris Adieu’ Rozsa Gaston + Giveaway

We welcome today Rozsa Gaston, author of the women’s contemporary fiction, Paris Adieu. Rozsa is giving away a copy of her book (see details below interview)!

Rozsa Gaston

Rozsa Gaston is an author who writes serious books on playful matters. She is the author of Paris Adieu, Dogsitters, Budapest Romance, Lyric, Running from Love and the soon to be released Paris Adieu sequel, Black is Not a Color Unless Worn By a Blonde. Rozsa studied European intellectual history at Yale, and then received her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. In between Rozsa worked as a singer/pianist all over the world. She currently lives in Connecticut with her family.

You can visit Rozsa’s website at www.parisadieu.com.

Paris Adieu

The first time Ava Fodor visits Paris as a nineteen-year old au pair, her French boyfriend introduces her to the concept of being comfortable in her own skin. If only she knew how…

One Ivy League degree later, she’s back for an encounter with a Frenchman that awakens her to womanhood. If only she could stay….

Five years later, Ava returns to Paris as a singer/pianist. She falls for Arnaud, whose frequent travel tortures her. While he’s away, a surprising stranger helps Ava on her journey to self-discovery. Armed with the lessons Paris has taught her, she bids adieu to Arnaud, Pierre and her very first love – the City of Light.

In Paris Adieu, Rozsa Gaston draws readers into the story (and inner thoughts) of nineteen-year old, Ava, a New Englander who struggles with a severe case of “lack-of-planitis” and the constant criticism of an unsympathetic grandmother. Much to her grandmothers’ dismay, Ava recently left college and works part time at a gas station. That is, until she hatches a plan to work as an au pair in Paris. With vivid detail and humor, Gaston takes readers straight into the heart of Paris through the eyes and ears of Ava, to a seductive land, where we smell pastries from her favorite bakery and meander through famous parks and museums, where we meet the French lover who urges Ava, always self-conscious about her body, to feel comfortable in her own skin. Throughout, Gaston writes with a deep appreciation for sensuality that will keep readers attentive to Ava’s every adventure.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Rozsa. Can you tell us where you are from?

West Hartford, Connecticut.

Q: How did you come up with the title?

I had another title to begin with, Queen of Diamonds Loves Me Not. It referred to my main character’s largely one-sided love affair with Paris. But my editor told me it was rubbish, then another editor at a large publishing house said the same thing. I scuttled it and came up with a shorter title.

Paris Adieu says what it means. “Adieu” means “goodbye forever” in French. It’s not the typical French goodbye,“au revoir,” which means “see you again.” At the end of Paris Adieu, my main character Ava Fodor makes a decision to leave Paris. She’s learned how to be fabulous there, and when she isn’t, she’s learned how to fake it till she makes it. But now it’s time to take her act back to New York, where she belongs.

Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?

Rob Mohan, a book cover designer my agent, Sharon Belcastro of Belcastro Agency, found, came up with the cover. He captured perfectly the innocence, slight chubbiness and fledgling thirst for romantic adventure of my main character, Ava Fodor. The first moment I looked at it, I loved it.

I was expecting a long back and forth between my agent and I, going on for months, during which time we’d have all sorts of disagreements over the how the cover should look. Instead, Rob Mohan nailed it right away. He further refined the title’s lettering by adding the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building images so that the reader knows immediately the story is not just about Paris, but leads back to New York. The color scheme of hot pink with shades of gray perfectly captures the journey Ava makes from black and white, Puritan-inflected New England, where she grew up, to Paris’ shades of gray, accented with Ava’s hot pink readiness to embrace life.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?

There’s lots of sex in it, all from a woman’s point of view. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but Paris Adieu is a coming of age tale and my main character matures from age nineteen to twenty nine in the story. It came with the territory.

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?

Yes, two.

Accept who you are and be comfortable in your own skin.

Fake it till you make it, if you’re on your way to being comfortable in your own skin, but not there yet. You’ll get there if you keep practicing the discipline of acting like the person you wish to become.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?

My favorite chapter to write was the one where Ava’s French boyfriend Jean-Michel’s ex-girlfriend from California returns to Paris for a brief visit and Ava realizes that she and April have far more in common with each other than either of them do with Jean-Michel. They’re both a bit plump, both on diets, both struggling to get their arms around the very Parisian concept of being comfortable in their own skins. When Ava witnesses Jean-Michel trying to sabotage April’s efforts to stay on her diet when they all go out, she gets wise to Jean-Michel’s controlling ways. After April’s visit, Ava has Jean-Michel’s number — and it’s up.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?

My time in Paris in my twenties was utterly magical. It marked me for life and upped the quills in my quiver. I wanted to share what I learned there with other women. How to be comfortable in one’s own skin, and how to seek authenticity in all things, above all, sexual satisfaction. The second derives from the first. Both are like a hammer on a nail’s head. You’ll know when you hit your mark.

Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?

Darlings, secrets aren’t meant to be shared. The really secret ones, I mean. Those are the ones that give a woman mystique, a certain “je ne sais quoi” or “I don’t know what…”

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I’d travel to Carcassonne, France. Years ago I experienced a déjà vu while visiting that medieval walled town in the South of France. I felt as if I’d been a blind nun there in perhaps the twelfth century, who played the harp at sunset every evening in a small square that overlooked the valley to the west of the town. This probably has some foundation in books I read about Eleanor of Aquitaine when I was a child, a historical figure who strongly impressed me as a beautiful and powerful figure. I’d like to return to Carcassonne and see if I feel that same tingle of recognition again.

I’m also strongly taken by The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries which hang in the Cluny Museum in Paris. There’s something about France in the middle ages that resonates with me. A copy of the Cluny tapestry depicted here, Le Toucher or Sense of Touch from the “A mon seul désir” series, hangs in my living room. It’s a picture of my soul. I’d love to spend some time wandering around the French countryside gathering the golden threads that weave together the tapestry of that French woman I once was. A future book, perhaps?

Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?

I used to be a night owl when I was a professional musician. As a singer/pianist, I’d typically work from 8 pm – midnight, go to a club to unwind with some dancing afterward, then go home to sleep around 2 – 3 a.m. Some nights we went to afterhours clubs to unwind from the dance clubs. Those days are long gone.

Now I’m a morning person, a cauldron of creativity from 8 am to 1 pm, sometimes 2. Then I go out for a run and prepare for the 3 pm weekday disgorgement of the progeny from the school bus.

Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?

My husband writes frequent op-ed articles for our local newspaper. Fortunately, he sticks to non-fiction so we don’t compete. If he wrote fiction, I’d be worried, because he’s an excellent writer. As much as I find his high-level command of syntax annoying, especially when he uses words or phrases I don’t know, it is deeply gratifying to be married to someone who can hold his own at just about any cocktail party.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?

Yes. I was a dreamer and a bookworm, raised by my grandparents as an only child.

Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?

That my eleven-year-old daughter would realize her dream of one day becoming a pediatrician.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?

Stay playful. It’s a good way to be.


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