Party Kolkata Style + Valeska's New Book – Happiness Between Tails
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I had a whole other idea for this week’s blog post — but surely there’s no better way to celebrate a day than to shake, rattle, and roll Kolkata style?!
More posts and podcasts about my visit to Kolkata here and here and here and here…
Work paused on my novel, Khashayar grabbed by the hand, he and I danced with glee to the music of the following short videos. They’re from cousin Giulia and Deep’s India-style wedding. Well-wishers from near and far kicked off days of parties and ceremonies. (Longer videos to come in future posts.)
I don’t think I ever laughed so much in one night in my life! Giulia and Deep hoofed it to the right of Khashayar…
Despite abundant food and drink, I doubt anyone left the dance floor for more than a minute at a time. Not with Paresh (in black t-shirt and jacket) livening the stage!…
For anyone who hadn’t polished their Kolkata-wood moves — hang on, turns out the proper term is Tollywood — Rocky was there to lead the way…
Guests also gave encouraging speeches, sang songs, and we did an impromptu Argentine tango…
Hey — let’s dance to Valeska Réon’s happy new too! She’s guested at Happiness Between Tails here and I first expressed my admiration of her here. An author since 1997, she’s published fifteen books, from crime and thriller novels to health guides. With her dogs Maya and Indie, she lives in Dortmund, Germany and plans to relocate to Berlin.
Her first historical novel, which she plans to publish in the United States, is already doing well…
“Forbidden Promises: the first German book about Queen Anne of Brittany” by Valeska Réon
I got the idea for this novel from my Maastricht thriller ‘Der Bibelkiller’ (about a serial killer who terrifies the citizens of Maastricht with his bizarre murders), where it is mentioned in a subplot. Here’s a post about that here.
This then inspired me to dedicate a novel of its own to Anne of Brittany (1477 – 1514).
It is the first German book about her; for the publication in Germany this was an all-important feature.
It seemed rather strange that such an interesting historical figure living in a time of world transforming change, bringing with it the values of the early modern period (Renaissance), had gone ignored by German authors. Until her death, Anne was the Duchess of Brittany and through her three marriages also Queen of France not one, but two times, holding the titles of Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Sicily and Jerusalem and Duchess of Milan at the same time. She was a devoted patron of the arts and initiated for the first illustrated children’s book to be written.
While history books tend to portray a favourable image of Anne’s second husband, King Charles VIII, another viewpoint can also be explored; King Charles VIII was a foolish ruler who was more interested in pursuing women’s skirts than paying attention to his own wife, or the country he should rule. From a venture in Italy, he and his men spread syphilis throughout Europe, and by the time of his death his court had not contributed in any form to the spiritual or artistic wave sweeping Europe. For a well-educated and enlightened woman like Anne this must have been nothing short of torture. The point of the death of King Charles VIII is the perfect moment to include a twist into the story.
I make use of my imagination and introduce a knight of the Order of Michael, Jean de Thyberon, into Anne’s life. Historical realism and fiction are walking hand in hand. Jean accompanies Anne over several years. Respect grows into careful affection, and with time more begins to bloom between the two.
As King Charles’s deadly accident in castle Amboise includes several historically incongruent accounts, the authors use the quirks of history to create some rumours and suspense between the lines. Charles was a man of small stature and died of an aneurism which resulted from him hitting his head against a door frame. How likely does it feel that something like this was just a coincidence? The Order of Michael was under his command, and so the Knight of the Order Jean de Thyberon is called to investigate the cause of death. With time he becomes Anne’s consultant, then a good friend and finally the man whom she adores with all her heart. The problem is: a knight openly wooing the Queen is completely unthinkable.
There are still other strange events in the life of Anne of Brittany. From her eleven children only her daughters Claude and Renée survived. A tragic truth which made the authors question, what if those two had a father far removed from the fragile royal bloodlines? Could Jean de Thyberon have been the father?
And what if Jean advised her in the field of politics and helped to shape history as we know it without ever having been mentioned in any history book?
In front of this background, the picture of the impeccable Queen is broken apart and a new light is cast on Anne the person, the woman, and the lover.
For a gripping flow of the story, the viewpoints of Anne and Jean are mixed and told in first person. Through their unique feelings and experiences, the reader is close to the protagonists and all the events of the story.
The perfect harmony of true history and exciting fiction create the pull of this novel. The reader is left to wonder, and maybe even hope, could it have really been like this?
Here you can see the long version of the book trailer:
The song you hear in the background, Violet et Noir, was written especially for this historical novel.
The book presentation started in January 2023 Berlin, and will continue at the Leipzig Book Fair in April; in May I will travel to Vienna and Salzburg to meet my Austrian readers in person. It is quite interesting that I am also invited to colloquia at universities with this book, because the plot is very interesting for students.
Currently we are looking for a publisher in the USA because we think that this bittersweet love story could appeal to American readers very much.
I’m already writing a new historical novel, this time about an English Queen about whom there is no book anywhere in the world. For this project I interweave the life story of the sovereign with a thriller plot.
France 1498: Anne of Brittany, Duchess of Brittany and Queen of France, has already gone through two marriages. She never met her first husband, King Maximilian I, as the marriage was arranged in her name. Her second husband, King Charles VIII, died under mysterious circumstances. All her six children have passed away.
Having given up the hope and search for true love she meets Jean de Thyberon – knight of the Order of St Michael, and suddenly finds herself united with her soulmate. After only a few short months, Anne has to part ways with the educated and humorous man forever as protocol dictates that Anne has to marry King Louis XII.
‘I may not love you…’
… so the command hanging over their love like a sword of Damocles.
Don’t let not being Persian stop you from enjoying Norooz! More about how we celebrate Persian New Year here…
How do you celebrate a great day?