Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg

"It is early morning; outside, the sky is dark and the trees move dramatically in the wind.  Soon a storm will come.  I want to live to see it.  This is the way of nature: to persuade us around one more bend, to beckon us to behold one more vista."

Before reading this novel, I did not know much beyond the basic details of George Sand's life.  Being a writer in the 1830s and 1840s is Paris, she lived an extremely unique life as a women ahead of her time.  Elizabeth Berg's books have been on my radar for awhile now, and I was looking forward to reading this historical novel for the Germantown Community Library Adult Book Club this February.

I usually love historical fiction - and who doesn't love a good story set in Paris? - but, I found the novel a bit slow and annoying.  The book was told through alternating time periods: one in the present and the other starting during George's childhood.  I've seen this done well numerous times, but it didn't seem to work well in this book.  There wasn't enough development in the various sections and I often found myself losing track of what time period I was in.  I also found the character of George Sand extremely tiresome.  I'm assuming a lot of the details are historically accurate, but she just seems flaky and I wasn't able to connect with her at all.  I found it ridiculous that she fell in love with literally every single man (and a women as well) that she met.  By the end, I couldn't even keep track of how many lovers she had and all of her love affairs started sounding the same.  It just didn't add up that someone who was such an intelligent and talented individual would act the way she does in the novel.

I wanted to like this book - and I kept trying - but I found myself struggling to finish it.  It had some wonderful writing, but I just couldn't get past how unlikable of a character George Sand was portrayed as.  I did, however, appreciate many historical aspects of the book.  I love reading about Paris - especially in the 1920s - so this gave me another unique view on Paris in a much earlier but somewhat similar time period.  I also loved reading about all of the interesting people that George Sand came into contact with - Frederic Chopin, Victor Hugo, and Franz Liszt to name a few.  Even though I wasn't particularly impressed by this book, I am interested in reading some of Elizabeth Berg's other novels.  From what I have heard, they are mostly contemporary and a lot different.

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