Random House: 4/14/2015
eBook Review Copy, 368 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780812993158
At the beginning of this powerful novel, we meet Aurore Dupin as she is leaving her estranged husband, a loveless marriage, and her family’s estate in the French countryside to start a new life in Paris. There, she gives herself a new name - George Sand - and pursues her dream of becoming a writer, embracing an unconventional and even scandalous lifestyle.
Paris in the nineteenth century comes vividly alive, illuminated by the story of the loves, passions, and fierce struggles of a woman who defied the confines of society. Sand’s many lovers and friends include Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Marie Dorval, and Alfred de Musset. As Sand welcomes fame and friendship, she fights to overcome heartbreak and prejudice, failure and loss. Though considered the most gifted genius of her time, she works to reconcile the pain of her childhood, of disturbing relationships with her mother and daughter, and of her intimacies with women and men. Will the life she longs for always be just out of reach—a dream?
Brilliantly written in luminous prose, and with remarkable insights into the heart and mind of a literary force, The Dream Lover tells the unforgettable story of a courageous, irresistible woman.
The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg is a highly recommended fictional account of the life of Aurore Dupin, or as we know her, George Sand.
Berg starts her book in 1831 when Aurore Dupin leaves the French countryside and her conventional but loveless marriage to live a creative, bohemian life in Paris. Then the novel goes back in time to 1804 when Aurore is born and shows us her parents and childhood. The novel is historical fiction, but also becomes part biography as Berg recounts the life, career, and lovers of George Sand and her many struggles. Included in the novel is a plethora of famous historical figures that cross paths with Aurore/Sand and a characterization of her progressive political/social beliefs. While pursuing her writing career with great success, Sand was continually looking for love but never seems to truly find the titular dream lover.
Berg is an excellent writer and does manage to bring the myriad of details regarding Sand's life to the forefront. Fans of historical fiction will likely immensely enjoy the details included, as Berg did an notable job researching Sand's life in order to base this fictional account on the real person. For me, Sands still remains elusive as a person in this fictional account that feels more like a biography. That's not necessarily bad, because I like biographies, but it is worth noting for other readers that Sand's actions sometimes feel as if they are a list of details in a report rather than an account of a historical figure being brought to life. This is also not necessarily a criticism since I completely understand that it can be difficult to write about a historical figure and bring them to life on the page while trying to include the many details of their life.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House for review purposes.