Title: The Dream Lover
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Acquired Via: TLC Book Tours
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg has written a lush historical novel based on the sensuous Parisian life of the nineteenth-century writer George Sand—which is perfect for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.
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.
“In her masterly new novel, Elizabeth Berg inhabits the adventurous heart of George Sand, making sense of a puzzling legend who dared to live and write against the grain.” — Nancy Horan
“The Dream Lover—what a bold, insightful, and enticing novel. And how vigorously Elizabeth Berg brings us the iconoclastic life of George Sand. Berg writes with such intimacy and compassion that I think she must have some shared ancestral DNA with Sand. I savored every page.” — Frances Mayes
“What a rich, heartbreaking, triumphant novel Elizabeth Berg has written! I recommend reading it with a highlighter in hand to mark the insights about love and life and being a woman that are on every page so you can reread and savor them.” — Ann Hood
“The Dream Lover is a historical novel at once expansively researched yet intimately imagined. George Sand may be the ultimate Berg heroine. ‘A life not lived in truth,’ Berg writes, ‘is a life forfeited.’ In this latest work, Elizabeth Berg has poured her own great gifts and her own great heart into the story of a woman determined to refuse any such forfeiture, no matter the cost.” — Leah Hager Cohen
“The Dream Lover is the dream match of writer to subject, Elizabeth Berg animating George Sand so vividly that you feel the Frenchwoman speaking directly to you. Infamous for her eccentricities and her passions, Sand is shown to be a touching figure, a woman needing to love and be loved.” — Robin Black
Before being given the opportunity to review The Dream Lover, I didn't really know that much about George Sand. I'm so glad I read this novel, because George Sand was an extraordinary woman and a much needed voice in her time and ours.
The first part of The Dream Lover was awkward. It read like a biography in first person, but not really. There was no way to tell which words were written by Sand and which were written by Elizabeth Berg. I wish that there at least a footnote by all of Sand's actual words, stating something like found in a letter to such and such. Each time I read a quote starting with something I like "I would later write", I immediately began wondering if that was something Sand had actually written. On several occasions I did an internet search to determine this. Needless to say, the tone of the novel distracted me from thoroughly enjoying it. Maybe it would have been better as a dramatic non-fiction, not quite biography in the vein of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott. However, Sand herself wrote an autobiography and there are many biographies written about her.
By about 50%, I either got used to the odd mix of biography/fiction or the novel began to flow better. By 80%, I couldn't put it down. Sand and her life were extremely volatile, and I couldn't wait to see what lover she would take next, or what family trouble would emerge. I loved seeing such a strong woman (who never saw her self as such) in that time forging the way for women like me to have more equality. The glimpses of women of that time period fill me with sorrow. Some, like Sand, wanted their independence and an equality between men and women, and to be seen as a person and not just a woman.
The Dream Lover could have easily been a 5 star book for me, considering the subject matter that the author was working with. There were times that the novel brought out such strong emotions, and then there were times that I was jarred from the novel. I wanted to rail at her grandmother and her grandmother's servants, not to mention the men and women who scorned Sand, for their cruel and vengeful treatment. I hope that she got the peace she deserved at the end, although I don't think that she ever found peace in the love that searched for her entire life. Sand's novels at the time must have been thrilling and somewhat shocking and scandalous. I wonder how they translate almost 200 years later. If nothing else, The Dream Lover has given me a great appreciation for George Sand and her work. I would love to read Lélia and even some of Sand's letters to various people of that time.
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About the Author
Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including Tapestry of Fortunes, The Last Time I Saw You, Home Safe, The Year of Pleasures, and Dream When You’re Feeling Blue, as well as two collections of short stories and two works of nonfiction. Open House was an Oprah’s Book Club selection, Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for an Abby Award, and The Pull of the Moon was adapted into a play. Berg has been honored by both the Boston Public Library and the Chicago Public Library. She is a popular speaker at venues around the country, and her work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a reading series designed to serve author, audience, and community. She divides her time between Chicago and San Francisco.
Follow the Tour
The Dream Lover Tour Schedule
Monday, April 13th
Tuesday, April 14th
Let Them Read Books
Monday, April 20th
Monday, April 20th
Tuesday, April 21st
Tuesday, April 21st
The Novel Life
Wednesday, April 22nd
Books on the Table - Bookstore Event post
Wednesday, April 22nd
Thursday, April 23rd
Unabridged Chick – author Q&A
Monday, April 27th
Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, April 28th
Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, April 29th
Thursday, April 30th
Life is Story
Friday, May 1st
100 Pages a Day… Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Monday, May 4th
Monday, May 4th
Wednesday, May 6th
Monday, May 11th
History from a Woman’s Perspective
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.