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Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite
One of the most challenging aspects of writing a historical fiction novel is to bring history to life. A writer already has a plot and has only to decide (as if this is an easy choice) what sources are the most reliable. However, presenting the facts in an engaging way is a different matter. Rosza Gaston is one of those authors who have been able to do this. In her book Anne and Charles, she recreates the pomp of late medieval France with accuracy and vibrancy. Anne and Charles tells the story of the marriage of Anne of Brittany and King Charles VIII of France and traces the events between 1488 and 1498. The narration of these ten years has the rigor of a historical essay and the charm of a romance.
Anne and Charles presents a brilliant historical compendium and a moving love story. Gaston’s ability to balance fiction and historical details is praiseworthy. Her account of the events in France and other European countries is always relevant. One of the most surprising things is the unbiased portrait of Charles VIII, who is usually described as a king of meagre accomplishments by historiographers. Emotions make this and other characters more likable and are an essential part of Anne and Charles. Dialogues express them at their best. Some discussions are very long, but they are privileged points of view to grasp 15th-century people’s mindsets. This is true also for the royal people’s reflections, especially Anne’s. They clarify her worries about her people and her country. Reading Anne and Charles is like making a moving and effortless journey into a past that does not seem so distant anymore.