Book review: The Dream Lover – I love France #144

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The Dream Lover:
A Novel of George Sand


The Deam Lover

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
The Dream Lover
Elizabeth Berg
Release date: April 14, 2015
by Random House
ISBN: 978-0812993158
Hardcover/paperback, 368 pages
also available as ebook

Genre:  historical novel

Source: Received
from the publisher through

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

 French Bingo 2015 logo  2015 HF Reading Challenge Button_FINAL 

  2015 ebook   New-Release-Challenge


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George Sand is a very important figure in French literature. Unfortunately, she is not as well know in the US, and I’m not aware of anyone writing a historical novel on her. So I seized the occasion when I heard about The Dream Lover. It was also a good way of finally reading a book by Elizabeth Berg. I’m shocked to see that the average rating she received so far for this book is not too high on Goodreads. I thought the book was really excellent.

I have the feeling most readers had not even heard about George Sand, or at least they knew almost nothing about her eccentric life. And maybe they were not able to go beyond her character to appreciate the fabulous job Elizabeth Berg is doing in this book.  Using a simple and evocative style not unlike George Sand’s itself, Berg recreates the difficult childhood Aurore Dupin, her real name, had. All along the novel, the author highlights how the difficult relationship Sand had with her own family background will replay with her own daughter.
Her refuge is the family house at Rohant in the countryside. This village life is an important element in many of her novels. An easier time during her teen years was the time she was sent to perfect her education in a convent.

The book opens when she leaves her loveless marriage to start a successful literary career in Paris. The book goes back and forth between this period and her childhood, until that moment. In Paris, introduced to the very active art and literary circles of the time, she enters in close relationships with both men and women, most quite famous writers, painters, and musicians. Chopin (who composed many of his works at Rohant) is famously known an her lover. If he was one of the longest ones, he was far from being the only one…

That night [the first night she met Chopin], I lost my heart to his music before I lost it to the man.


I need romantic love as I need air to breathe. I need someone to offer body, heart, and soul and to accept mine in return.

Starting to dress as a man early on in life for practical reasons, it is easier to ride horses, which she enjoyed very much, she keeps doing it when she realizes it gives her a much better social presence. But during her life time (1804-1876) that could only add to the aura of scandal surrounding her.
Her independence shows not only in her clothes and love relations, but also obviously in her writing. As Berg shows clearly following Sand’s main books, lots of her writing was about feminism, before the name even existed I think. She was a very popular writer, even eclipsing Victor Hugo at one point!

I was the first woman to become a bestseller in France and had achieved worldwide fame.

I really enjoyed how Berg recreated the amazingly dynamic world of artists and writers at the time in Paris. And how she managed to combine together Sand’s emotional  tormented life and the development of her writing as well as her political career.

VERDICT: George Sand was a very popular writer in her days.  While recreating the dynamic world of artists and writers of 19th century Paris, Elizabeth Berg draws the portrait of an independent woman, both talented and tormented, scandalous for many. A must for all lovers of  French literature and historical novels.


New York Times bestselling author 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. [provided by Netgalley]


Elizabeth BergElizabeth 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. S
he 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.


What was your last good historical novel?



11 thoughts on “Book review: The Dream Lover – I love France #144

  1. This sounds like a wonderful read! It is waiting on my “to be read” list here. BTW there was a very interesting movie about Sand and Chopin called Impromptu (played by Judy Davis and Hugh Grant).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 2015 – Books on France challenge – My list | Words And Peace

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  6. I have this book for review and I am excited to get a chance to read Elizabeth Berg as well. I have actually heard of George Sands and I remember in college when I realized George was female. It was my big eye-opening moment into pseudonyms crossing genders. It actually astonished me this sort of thing had not been mentioned to me in high school literature courses. It would be a topic high schoolers might actually pay attention to! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I recently finished this book, too, and from what others have told me, this is considerably different from Elizabeth Berg’s other books. So, maybe that’s why the ratings on Goodreads haven’t been so good. I think her usual readers were expecting something different. Not having read anything else by Berg, I had no opinions going in, and I, too, loved it. I’ll be posting a review for it either next week or the week after that.


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