Berg, Elizabeth. The Dream Lover
Booklist Reviews 2015 February #2
This work marks best-selling writer Berg's first major venture into biographical historical fiction, a move that's partly successful. Her subject is exciting and on-trend: George Sand, the nineteenth-century French writer whose insightful novels took readers by storm, and whose cross-dressing persona and many love affairs scandalized contemporary society. Born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin in 1804, she lived by her own rules, and her imagined voice—warm, sincere, and wise—is wonderfully disarming. As Sand examines her past, from her tense relationships with blood relations through her unhappy marriage and subsequent flight to independence in Paris, we're introduced to this fascinating woman. Berg's descriptive skills are remarkable throughout, but Sand's actions are too often reported from a distance rather than dramatized. This memoir-like style lets us learn about and admire Sand without placing us in the moment with her. There are exceptions, though, such as her scenes with actress Marie Dorval—her deepest, most passionate attachment—and her philosophical reflections on her continued search for love. It's at these times that her story feels most immediate and alive.High-Demand Backstory: Berg commands a high readership in public libraries, and her latest well-promoted novel will be requested. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 November #1
Berg, a library favorite—her Durable Goods and Joy School were both selected as ALA Best Books of the Year—does something completely different here. She offers a fictionalized account of the famous French novelist George Sand, reimagining her decidedly unconventional life in gorgeous 1830s-40s Paris amid a swirl of friends and lovers who included Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more. With an eight-city tour.[Page 59]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2015 April #1
George 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.]—Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI[Page 72]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2015 February #3
Berg's (Tapestry of Fortunes) latest novel is about the iconoclastic French writer born as Aurore Dupin but better known as George Sand. The story begins in 1831, when Aurore leaves her loveless marriage for a bohemian life in Paris. Born to an aristocratic soldier and a courtesan, Aurore's upbringing is shaped by her father's untimely death and her mother's unpredictability. Craving love and reveling in the natural beauty of the family estate at Nohant, she finds that conventional marriage stifles her soul. Though it means financial uncertainty and separation from her two children, the move to Paris lets her authentic, creative, androgynous self emerge. Notoriety, bestsellerdom, and a place in glittering literary, political, and artistic circles follow; though she has relationships with myriad men, including Frédéric Chopin, Berg suggests that it was a woman, the actress Marie Dorval, who most deeply captured her heart. In its attempt to capture Sand's entire eventful life, the novel can get overly expository. In the smaller, more intimate moments—the kind that helped make her previous books so successful—Berg offers vivid, sensual detail and a sensitive portrayal of the yearning and vulnerability behind Sand's bold persona. (Apr.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC