The Dream Lover

Random. Apr. 2015. 372p. ISBN 9780812993158. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780679644705. F
OrangeReviewStarGeorge Sand, born Aurore Dupin in 1804 to a courtesan and a descendant of Polish royalty who was a distinguished military officer in France, is often reduced to the bullet points of her life: she was a prodigious writer who dressed in men's clothing and smoked cigars in public, a friend and/or lover to much of the A-list of 19th-century European culture (Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt), and a divorcée who had troubled relationships with her mother, grandmother, and children. Berg's years-long immersion in the writings of and about Sand has resulted in a remarkable channeling of Sand's voice that imagines the contradictory strands of her nature. Among these themes are her fierce independence, so contrary to her endless impetuous romantic entanglements, which quickly devolve into difficult morasses. Sand's endless struggles to be a good parent were compromised by her unsettled travels; all of these issues were driven by her intense need to write.
VERDICT Years ago, Berg (Tapestry of Fortunes) urged Nancy Horan (Loving Frank) to write a fictional biography of Sand. Horan told Berg to write it herself. Wisely, Berg took her advice to heart, as evidenced by this beautiful, imaginative re-creation of a brilliant, complicated writer, feminist, romantic, and activist. [See Prepub Alert, 10/5/14.]
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