A Review: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
Elizabeth Berg's The Dream Lover is the story of George Sand: French novelist, protofeminist, and inamorata to some of history's leading men.
I must admit that I haven't read Sand's work. I actually, and this is outright embarrassing, had only learned of her after watching a movie based on her relationship with Frederic Chopin. You know, the film with a young Hugh Grant as a sickly Chopin? Yep, I totally had a thing for him (Grant) as a teenager, and was also obsessed with Chopin, so she was really just a side note. Whatever. So I basically knew that these two had gotten busy together and that she wore men's clothing but that was about it. Pathetic.
This novel delves into the life of George Sand beginning with her parents ill-suited match, adding color to her formative years. Assuming that much of the novel is based on biographies of the writer, there's much to be learned, or at the very least, researched after finishing the book. I had no idea she was close friends with some of her more well-known literary, male contemporaries. The atmosphere was lovely and I was instantly transported to the busy streets of Paris, or the idyllic, lush countryside of her family estate at Nohant. It was the perfect companion for escaping the everyday life for an hour or so.
That being said, I didn't entirely love this novel. As of late, I've felt that many narrators in historical novels sound eerily similar, and this one was no different. Is this just me?! Anyway, the beginning seemed promising, as we learn of Sand's family background, of her relationship with a grandmother who means the best but demands the rigid etiquette of post-revolutionary France, which paves the way for George and her exciting life ahead. However, the moments where the reader is forced, suddenly, into George's present day life, consists of being fed exacting play-by-plays of her deteriorating relationships with lovers and her inability to write without them. It was something along the lines of, "and then I started seeing x, but it just didn't work after I caught him with z, so we broke it off." Every. Time. And the woman falls in love with like every dude (and maybe one lady) she meets. Ok, ok, so maybe that's just how she operated so I can't really fault the book for that, but the jump from one summary of a lover to the next was boring and didn't offer anything substantial in terms of character development. I really longed to get back to Nohant and watch her grow.
At the end of the day, I would recommend this book to friends who love historical fiction and want to read about a pioneering lady figure. It's perfect for getting swept away to a different time and place, especially imagining being apart of the literary circles of Paris at this time. And I'll admit that I did learn a lot about her life, even though this work was fiction, as it prompted me to research her life past the pages. I'll definitely be adding Sand's work to my TBR moving forward.
Read this title? Share your thoughts! I'd love suggestions of other historical fiction to add to the TBR, as well!
*I received an advanced reader's copy of this title from Random House through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.