Title: The Dream Lover: A Novel
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Publisher: Random House
Format: Hardcover, 368 Pages, $20.63 [Amazon Hardcover], $16.00 [Amazon Paperback], $8.99 [Kindle], $20.95 [Audible], $16.00 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $21.04 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $8.99 [Nook], $8.99 [Google Play], $8.99 [iBooks]
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 year is 1831. The city of Paris is a Bohemian paradise. France is home to the great minds of the age: remarkable musical prodigies such as Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt; some of history’s most notable writers such as Gustave Flaubert (author of Madame Bovary), Victor Hugo (who penned the tearjerker Les Misérables), Alexandre Dumas (famous for his works such as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers), and the colorful Aurore Dupin aka “George Sand” (a woman who clearly was ahead of her time; stunning actresses of the time such as Marie Dorval (known for her beauty as well as her scandalous affair with George Sand).
The story opens up in 1873 where George is an old woman. Knowing that her death is not entirely too far off, she reminisces about her earlier life.
The story alternates between her childhood in the early 19th century and her life as a disgruntled married woman in the year 1831. As a married woman, George Sand has done the unthinkable and made an agreement with her husband where they would remain married but live separate lives. She spends the majority of her time living in Paris while her husband remains at the country estate with their two children, Maurice and Solange. What follows is a constant stream of lovers that happen to always leave George a dissatisfied shell of a person. Yes, there were bits of her writing books sprinkled in here or there but overall, it was mostly about her pursuit of a quick succession of lovers.
From start to finish, this book was mind-numbingly dull. George Sand was a fascinating and colorful personage of the 19th century who really turned Parisian society upside down with her avant garde behavior. The author, Ms. Berg’s The Dream Lover was painful to read and there were times where I felt lost in a fog. I found her rendition of George Sand to be wooden and hollow. Furthermore, I found it difficult to enjoy the heroine. Most disappointing was her depiction of Frederic Chopin as well as some of the other historic characters as Franz Liszt and even Gustave Flaubert. To her credit, the author must have done a considerable amount of research and it is apparent in her writing, disjointed though it may be.
It seemed almost as if Ms. Berg’s George Sand was a barnacle on her lovers’ backs. It would have been nice for the story to have been about Sand and less so about her interaction with lovers.