- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Random House (April 14, 2015)
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.
Buy, read, and discuss, The Dream Lover
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.
I’ve been reading Elizabeth Berg’s contemporary fiction for years, so when her newest work, an historical novel about the life of George Sand, was offered to me by the awesome women at TLC Book Tours, I jumped at the chance.
From the very first paragraphs, I was caught in Berg’s delicious prose. It’s haunting, gentle, lyrical, even when she’s discussing things that are not at all gentle (or lyrical). But she’s writing about nineteenth-century France, so the language should feel like that, and the sense of place and time she gives us in this novel is so strong, so vivid, that I found myself not only reading passages of this novel aloud – as I do whenever the language or rhythm really entrances me – but reading it aloud in a French accent. (You would have been enthralled, I tell you, by my performance. My dogs certainly were.)
I always love behind-the-scenes information – I buy DVD’s just for the director’s commentary – and I love a good origin story, and The Dream Lover has both. Yes, we get to see the childhood of the woman who grows up to become George Sand, but we also get a glimpse into her life, her loves (not all of which were fulfilling or successful) and her craft. This is NOT a ‘writing book,’ but it’s definitely a writers’ novel. If you, like me, have literary aspirations, you HAVE to read this.
A passage about the writerly imagination, and how Aurore/George has heard the story of her birth so often that something told to her has become memory, really resonated with me. Here’s the actual passage (I can’t quote page numbers, because I read a digital ARC, but it’s at Loc 372/7% in on the Kindle version):
A writer has a most fertile mind, or he is no writer at all. He has an imagination that soars when given the most meager starts: a wet blade of grass, croissant crumbs on a plate, the sight of a woman hurriedly crossing a street. And in the way that the fiction a writer produces can assume a truth of its own, these details of my birth seem less story to me than memory.
How many of us haven’t shared similar experiences with frequently told stories?
The Dream Lover is full of such nuggets of human truth, and that’s what makes it such a great read. It’s not at all a “beach read,” but it’s not so heavy that you couldn’t read it at the beach, if that’s where you happen to be.
Goes well with A plate of fruit and cheese with a lightly sweetened palmiere pastry and a hand-crafted cappuccino in a proper cup, not some cardboard contraption.
Monday, April 13th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, April 14th: Let Them Read Books
Monday, April 20th: Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, April 20th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, April 22nd: Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, April 27th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, April 28th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Tuesday, April 28th: The Novel Life
Wednesday, April 29th: Bibliotica – That’s ME
Thursday, April 30th: Life is Story
Thursday, April 30th: History from a Woman’s Perspective
Friday, May 1st: 100 Pages a Day… Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Monday, May 4th: Laura’s Reviews
Monday, May 4th: Book Babe
Wednesday, May 6th: Unshelfish
Monday, May 11th: Broken Teepee
TBD: Unabridged Chick – review
TBD: Unabridged Chick – author Q&A