cover image The Dream Lover

The Dream Lover

Elizabeth Berg. Random, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9315-8

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.)