I love Elizabeth Berg’s writing. I’ve read just about all her books (JOY SCHOOL, DREAM WHEN YOU’RE FEELING BLUE, HOME SAFE, THE YEAR OF PLEASURES, DURABLE GOODS, and more). She’s a fantastic writer, so I was quite excited when I saw she had written a new novel: a historical biography of the author George Sands.
Told in differing points in time, this novel traces George Sand’s life from her parents’ courtship to her rise as a respected author. However, most of the focus is on her love life – who she is in love with and what happens between them. And I should mention that George Sand had a lot of loves in her life. Jumping through time, we find George (whose real name was Aurore) struggling to be a writer, George meeting her husband, George as a young girl, George and her lovers, George and her children, etc. until the story lines converge and the plot moves forward towards the end of the book. I struggled to keep the chronology intact while I read. To be honest, I found the parts about her childhood and her family quite interesting. I found her laundry list of lovers rather boring. A large part of this novel is George hopping in and out of bed with just about anyone who catches her eye. For 368 pages, that was a lot of hopping.
At the end of this novel, which is beautifully written, I pondered the question: what was the author’s purpose here? I think I was expecting a biography. But the title really says it all, when you think about it: “The Dream Lover”. George Sand was constantly seeking to feel love and to be loved, in part because that was when her creativity blossomed. She couldn’t write when she felt stagnant. Loving and being loved opened her up to the creative spark that lived within her. She was a genius, and she struggled against the mores that held her, as a woman, firmly in place and stifled her. Constantly seeking for the perfect love brought George into her creative realm and made her the author she was.
Interesting – well-written – but one you may need to stick with until the end, I found THE DREAM LOVER an intriguing read.
Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my copy!