The Dream Lover

Elizabeth Berg (Tapestry of Fortunes) has a gift for creating characters who reflect the emotional lives of ordinary contemporary women. In The Dream Lover, George Sand, the first female bestselling writer in France, is in her 70s. Aware she is beginning to fail, she recalls her astonishing life, full of enviable literary accomplishments and famous friends and lovers, to find "the beating heart of what I most truly was." That vital thing is the need to love and be loved, "for the rest," she says, "is dust."

What comprises "the rest" in Sand's case is, of course, a very great deal. Born Aurore Dupin and raised by her grandmother on the family estate in Nohant, Sand marries young but eventually leaves her philandering husband for Paris, intent on becoming a writer. She finds work as a theater critic for Le Figaro, dressing as a man so that she can buy the inexpensive tickets forbidden to women. Her novels, which she writes at night, are lavishly praised for their eloquence and their unsparing depiction of the realities of domestic life, especially for women. Her circle of lovers and friends widens to include Chopin, Liszt, Hugo and Flaubert. She lives for the passion of each new affair before it, too, runs its course.

Berg's prose is lovely, recalling the rhythms of 19th-century speech. Her Paris and Nohant are flawlessly rendered, rich with the textures of daily life. The tension that fuels The Dream Lover comes from making the larger-than-life experiences of its extraordinary historical protagonist secondary to her emotional core and her consuming need for love. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Powered by: Xtenit