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The Dream Lover

Cover of The Dream Lover

The Dream Lover

A Novel of George Sand
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY USA TODAY • Elizabeth Berg has written a lush historical novel based on the sensuous Parisian life of the nineteenth-century writer George Sand—which is perfect for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.
At the beginning of this powerful novel, we meet Aurore Dupin as she is leaving her estranged husband, a loveless marriage, and her family's estate in the French countryside to start a new life in Paris. There, she gives herself a new name—George Sand—and pursues her dream of becoming a writer, embracing an unconventional and even scandalous lifestyle.
Paris in the nineteenth century comes vividly alive, illuminated by the story of the loves, passions, and fierce struggles of a woman who defied the confines of society. Sand's many lovers and friends include Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Marie Dorval, and Alfred de Musset. As Sand welcomes fame and friendship, she fights to overcome heartbreak and prejudice, failure and loss. Though considered the most gifted genius of her time, she works to reconcile the pain of her childhood, of disturbing relationships with her mother and daughter, and of her intimacies with women and men. Will the life she longs for always be just out of reach—a dream?

Brilliantly written in luminous prose, and with remarkable insights into the heart and mind of a literary force, The Dream Lover tells the unforgettable story of a courageous, irresistible woman.
Praise for The Dream Lover
"Exquisitely captivating . . . Sand's story is so timely and modern in an era when gender and sexual roles are upended daily."USA Today
"Fantastic . . . a provocative and dazzling portrait . . . Berg tells a terrific story, while simultaneously exploring sexuality, art, and the difficult personal choices women artists in particular made—then and now—in order to succeed. . . . The book, imagistic and perfectly paced, full of dialogue that clips along, is a reader's dream."The Boston Globe
"Absorbing . . . an armchair traveler's delight . . . Berg rolls out the wonders of nineteenth-century Paris in cinematic bursts that capture its light, its street life, its people and sounds. . . . The result is an illuminating portrait of a magnificent woman whose story is enriched by the delicate brush strokes of Berg's colorful imagination."Chicago Tribune

"There is authority and confidence in the storytelling that makes the pages fly."The New York Times
"Berg weaves an enchanting novel about the real life of George Sand."Us Weekly
"Lavishly described . . . Berg uses her own skill as a writer to graphically present the reader with a clear picture of a brilliant, yet flawed woman."—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star
"[A] beautiful, imaginative re-creation . . . Berg's years-long immersion in the writings of and about Sand has resulted in a remarkable channeling of Sand's voice."Library Journal (starred review)
"Berg offers vivid, sensual detail and a sensitive portrayal of the yearning and vulnerability behind Sand's bold persona."Publishers Weekly
"A thoroughly pleasant escape . . . [Sand is] intoxicating, beautiful, gifted, desirous, unconventional and heartbroken."Kirkus Reviews
From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY USA TODAY • Elizabeth Berg has written a lush historical novel based on the sensuous Parisian life of the nineteenth-century writer George Sand—which is perfect for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.
At the beginning of this powerful novel, we meet Aurore Dupin as she is leaving her estranged husband, a loveless marriage, and her family's estate in the French countryside to start a new life in Paris. There, she gives herself a new name—George Sand—and pursues her dream of becoming a writer, embracing an unconventional and even scandalous lifestyle.
Paris in the nineteenth century comes vividly alive, illuminated by the story of the loves, passions, and fierce struggles of a woman who defied the confines of society. Sand's many lovers and friends include Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Marie Dorval, and Alfred de Musset. As Sand welcomes fame and friendship, she fights to overcome heartbreak and prejudice, failure and loss. Though considered the most gifted genius of her time, she works to reconcile the pain of her childhood, of disturbing relationships with her mother and daughter, and of her intimacies with women and men. Will the life she longs for always be just out of reach—a dream?

Brilliantly written in luminous prose, and with remarkable insights into the heart and mind of a literary force, The Dream Lover tells the unforgettable story of a courageous, irresistible woman.
Praise for The Dream Lover
"Exquisitely captivating . . . Sand's story is so timely and modern in an era when gender and sexual roles are upended daily."USA Today
"Fantastic . . . a provocative and dazzling portrait . . . Berg tells a terrific story, while simultaneously exploring sexuality, art, and the difficult personal choices women artists in particular made—then and now—in order to succeed. . . . The book, imagistic and perfectly paced, full of dialogue that clips along, is a reader's dream."The Boston Globe
"Absorbing . . . an armchair traveler's delight . . . Berg rolls out the wonders of nineteenth-century Paris in cinematic bursts that capture its light, its street life, its people and sounds. . . . The result is an illuminating portrait of a magnificent woman whose story is enriched by the delicate brush strokes of Berg's colorful imagination."Chicago Tribune

"There is authority and confidence in the storytelling that makes the pages fly."The New York Times
"Berg weaves an enchanting novel about the real life of George Sand."Us Weekly
"Lavishly described . . . Berg uses her own skill as a writer to graphically present the reader with a clear picture of a brilliant, yet flawed woman."—Fredericksburg Free Lance–Star
"[A] beautiful, imaginative re-creation . . . Berg's years-long immersion in the writings of and about Sand has resulted in a remarkable channeling of Sand's voice."Library Journal (starred review)
"Berg offers vivid, sensual detail and a sensitive portrayal of the yearning and vulnerability behind Sand's bold persona."Publishers Weekly
"A thoroughly pleasant escape . . . [Sand is] intoxicating, beautiful, gifted, desirous, unconventional and heartbroken."Kirkus Reviews
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the book

    ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth Berg

    My father's name was Maurice Dupin. His great-­grandfather was Augustus II, king of Poland; and his grandfather was Maurice de Koenigsmark, later called the Maréchal de Saxe when he was the most exalted field marshal in Napoleon's army. This maréchal was renowned not only for his cunning and bravery upon the battlefield but for a particular kind of bonhomie he demonstrated in war. For instance, he commonly arranged for women and theater for himself and his men to enjoy after a good day of battle--­never, he believed, would they appreciate such things more. All of France knew his name.

    And so it was in my father's blood, his great love of the military, and he joined the army in 1798, when he was twenty years old, never mind his mother twisting her handkerchief. Two years later, he was transferred to Milan, Italy, as an aide-­de-­camp, and it was there that he met my mother.

    She was Antoinette-­Sophie-­Victoire Delaborde, called Sophie, a courtesan currently living with a general who'd been smitten by her great beauty, her passion, and her gaiety. As was my father. He stole her away from the general, apparently with little ill will, for he was later promoted.

    In many letters written to his mother at this time, my father spoke of his love for his fine mistress, and my grandmother worried and fretted, frightened to death that her son might marry someone so far beneath him. She knew that my mother was four years older than Maurice and of a lower class, born to a poor man who sold songbirds on the quays of the Seine, and that in addition to working as a camp follower, she had a young daughter. It was not the match my grandmother had in mind for her beloved son.

    There was in this no small measure of hypocrisy. My grandmother may have had illustrious aristocrats in her family, but she came from a long line of illegitimate births, including her father's. And she herself was illegitimate--­her mother, ironically, was a courtesan who had captured the Maréchal de Saxe's attention.

    My father went on to distinguish himself in battle, as his grandfather had, but then he was captured by the enemy and held for two months as a prisoner of war. In May 1801, after his release, he returned home to my grandmother at Nohant. His normally buoyant personality had changed; he had about him an air of melancholy. One would expect such a change after a man is subjected to the ills of imprisonment--­vile treatment, near starvation, and only straw upon the ground for a bed. Add to this the mental distress of my father coming to understand that he was perhaps not destined always to be lucky, as he had often told his mother--­he was as vulnerable as anyone else. But what beleaguered my father most in those days was the thought that he would have to choose between two women, both of whom he loved.

    My grandmother had been my father's only parent since, when he was nine years old, his father died, leaving the little family enough of a fortune that my grandmother had a comfortable yearly income. In 1793, when the eleven months of the Reign of Terror began and the ruling Jacobins were ordering mass executions by guillotine in order to compel obedience to the state, she had fled her apartment in Paris and bought a peaceful country estate 150 miles south of the city. It was in the Berry region, a gently hilly, largely agricultural area of central France, and the estate lay just outside the little village of Nohant-­Vic, population 272. Nohant was situated between the larger towns of Châteauroux and La...

About the Author-
  • Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including Tapestry of Fortunes, The Last Time I Saw You, Home Safe, The Year of Pleasures, and Dream When You're Feeling Blue, as well as two collections of short stories and two works of nonfiction. Open House was an Oprah's Book Club selection, Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for an Abby Award, and The Pull of the Moon was adapted into a play. Berg has been honored by both the Boston Public Library and the Chicago Public Library. She is a popular speaker at venues around the country, and her work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a reading series designed to serve author, audience, and community. She divides her time between Chicago and San Francisco.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 16, 2015
    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.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2015
    Best-selling author Berg (Tapestry of Fortunes, 2013, etc.) turns her attention to the life of French writer George Sand with this vivid historical novel.The book begins twice: It's 1831, and Aurore Dupin, a free-spirited young woman, is leaving her loveless marriage in the French countryside for a creative, bohemian life in Paris-the life that will lead her to become literary icon George Sand. Then time whips backward: It's 1804, and the scene is Aurore's birth. Her mother is fiery, passionate, low-born and beautiful; her father is handsome, musical, charming, a military star. And so Berg sets off on a project that's part biography, part George Sand fantasy, alternating between scenes from Aurore's fairy-tale childhood and tales of her adult affairs-her brilliant career, her difficult family life, her struggles with femininity and the limitations of femaleness, her complicated sexuality, and, above all, her many, many whirlwind romances. "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved," Sand once wrote, and it is that quest that becomes the focal point of Berg's novel: We follow Aurore in and out of her loveless marriage, through passionate relationships and bright-burning assignations, many of them with historical characters famous in their own rights. Her work, we are told, comes easily and brilliantly and is met with perpetual praise and complete success; her politics are progressive and generally to be admired. A more nuanced exploration of her professional and political life might have brought Berg's Sand necessary humanity and texture, providing both a foil and a context for her love affairs. As it is, though, Aurore-for all that she's intoxicating, beautiful, gifted, desirous, unconventional and heartbroken-never quite becomes human. She remains mythlike, and we remain one step removed. A thoroughly pleasant escape, if not a particularly deep one.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2014
    Berg, a library favorite--her "Durable Goods" and "Joy School" were both selected as ALA Best Books of the Year--does something completely different here. She offers a fictionalized account of the famous French novelist George Sand, reimagining her decidedly unconventional life in gorgeous 1830s-40s Paris amid a swirl of friends and lovers who included Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more. With an eight-city tour.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Nancy Horan "In her masterful new novel, Elizabeth Berg inhabits the adventurous heart of George Sand, making sense of a puzzling legend who dared to live and write against the grain."
  • The New York Times "Exquisitely captivating . . . Sand's story is so timely and modern in an era when gender and sexual roles are upended daily."--USA Today "Fantastic . . . a provocative and dazzling portrait . . . Berg tells a terrific story, while simultaneously exploring sexuality, art, and the difficult personal choices women artists in particular made--then and now--in order to succeed. . . . The book, imagistic and perfectly paced, full of dialogue that clips along, is a reader's dream."--The Boston Globe "Absorbing . . . an armchair traveler's delight . . . Berg rolls out the wonders of nineteenth-century Paris in cinematic bursts that capture its light, its street life, its people and sounds. . . . The result is an illuminating portrait of a magnificent woman whose story is enriched by the delicate brush strokes of Berg's colorful imagination."--Chicago Tribune "There is authority and confidence in the storytelling that makes the pages fly."
  • Us Weekly "Berg weaves an enchanting novel about the real life of George Sand."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Lavishly described . . . Berg uses her own skill as a writer to graphically present the reader with a clear picture of a brilliant, yet flawed woman."--Fredericksburg Free Lance--Star "[A] beautiful, imaginative re-creation . . . Berg's years-long immersion in the writings of and about Sand has resulted in a remarkable channeling of Sand's voice."--Library Journal (starred review) "Berg offers vivid, sensual detail and a sensitive portrayal of the yearning and vulnerability behind Sand's bold persona."--Publishers Weekly "A thoroughly pleasant escape . . . [Sand is] intoxicating, beautiful, gifted, desirous, unconventional and heartbroken."
  • Ann Hood "The Dream Lover--what a bold, insightful, and enticing novel. And how vigorously Elizabeth Berg brings us the iconoclastic life of George Sand. Berg writes with such intimacy and compassion that I think she must have some shared ancestral DNA with Sand. I savored every page."--Frances Mayes "What a rich, heartbreaking, triumphant novel Elizabeth Berg has written! I recommend reading it with a highlighter in hand to mark the insights about love and life and being a woman that are on every page so you can reread and savor them."
  • Robin Black "The Dream Lover is a historical novel at once expansively researched yet intimately imagined. George Sand may be the ultimate Berg heroine. 'A life not lived in truth,' Berg writes, 'is a life forfeited.' In this latest work, Elizabeth Berg has poured her own great gifts and her own great heart into the story of a woman determined to refuse any such forfeiture, no matter the cost."--Leah Hager Cohen "The Dream Lover is the dream match of writer to subject, Elizabeth Berg animating George Sand so vividly that you feel the Frenchwoman speaking directly to you. Infamous for her eccentricities and her passions, Sand is shown to be a touching figure, a woman needing to love and be loved."
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