The Last Love of George Sand: A Literary Biography

Evelyne Bloch-Dano, trans. from the French by Allison Charette. Arcade, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61145-716-2
A writer whose work was often compared to that of Flaubert, Stendahl, and Balzac, George Sand had her choice of celebrity lovers (among them Chopin and Mérimée) but found “the man of her dreams” in a relatively unknown artist who was 13 years her junior, as this impassioned biography contends. That man was Alexandre Manceau, an engraver who was friends with Sand’s son, Maurice, and who moved in 1849 to Nohant, where a dispirited Sand was recovering from the failed revolution of 1848. Focusing on the years 1849 to 1865 (the year of Manceau’s death), Bloch-Dano (Madame Proust) uses the couple’s experiences as touchstones for exploring key aspects of Sand’s life: her gloomy first marriage; her relationship with her son and daughter, Solange; the salon society of leading literati and Continental artists to which she belonged; her bohemian lifestyle; her fervent support of the Republic; and her prodigious literary output. During these years, Sand published a staggering 26 novels and 20 plays, many of them facilitated by Manceau’s involvement in her life. Bloch-Dano brings Sand vividly to life through a wealth of quoted letters and memoirs, though somewhat at the expense of Manceau, who never really emerges from Sand’s shadow. Charette’s translation is serviceable, though sometimes clichéd. Nevertheless, readers who know Sand largely through her outsized literary reputation will find this portrait of her as a love-smitten romantic intriguing. The French Publishers’s Agency. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
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