Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg

Aurore Dupin is a typical French woman of the nobility in the early to mid 1880's.  She was raised by her grandmother after her father died when she was young and her mother went to Paris to live her life.  She was educated in the arts and sciences by a tutor who lived on the estate and learned to ride, make conversation and all the social graces.  Yet Aurore was not a happy child.  She felt deserted by her mother who had agreed to leave Aurore behind with her grandmother in exchange for the money to live as she chose.

When Aurore grew up, she was faced with marriage and all the disadvantages that imposed on a woman of the time.  She married a man and had high hopes, but the marriage soon evolved into a prison with him controlling all of her fortune and her estate.  He was brutish and lived only to hunt and have other women.  Her only joy was in her children, Maurice and Solange.

Finally, the marriage became more than she could bear and she went to Paris after agreeing to a separation with her husband.  There she started to write and explore other relationships.  She found a community of like people, artists and writers and musicians.  One of her first jobs was a theatre critic and she began to wear men's clothing in order to obtain the cheap seats they were allowed to buy.  Soon she was also using a man's name, the none under which she lived for the rest of her life.  That name was George Sand.

Over the years, Sand became famous for her writing and for her passionate love affairs.  She loved men who depended on her to support them both and inevitably, the affairs ended badly.  She desperately loved a famous actress of the time, but the other woman was not interested in that kind of relationship.  Her most famous and long-lasting love affair was with Frederick Chopin.  That relationship lasted almost a decade.  She was friends with Flaubert, Balzac, Liszt, Eugene Delacroix and a host of other individuals in the arts.  Yet she always searched and was disappointed in love.

Elizabeth Berg has written a novel about George Sand that will introduce this great writer to the reader who has always been interested in learning more about this influential writer who forged the path for women's independence to pursue what gave them joy.  She uses some of Sand's letters and those she received to illustrate the tempestuous personality that moved Sand onward, constantly pursuing the right to live life as she wanted.  This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.

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