One of the pluses of historical fiction versus non-fiction is the ability to extrapolate. The contradictions in historical details and facts about Aurore Dupin aka George Sand allowed Ms. Berg plenty of wiggle room to do just that. Rather than chapters THE DREAM LOVER is divided into sections headed by date and location, alternating between past and present. Written in the first person THE DREAM LOVER gives the illusion of readers being granted access to George’s private thoughts and memories creating a feeling of intimacy.
While her books and other works are mentioned, some merely in passing such as the play she wrote for Marie Dorval, and quoted, they aren’t, the axis on which TDL spins.
George’s romantic personal life and artistic life style are the main focus. George’s work satisfies her creative urge, the consuming need to write, which she does almost nightly, all night. She’s prolific, almost mechanical, because it provides her income. George isn’t an author who agonizes over every word she writes. Her talent also allows her eccentricities to be tolerated, and to an extent, admired.
Unfortunately, what felt like an inordinate amount of time was spent on her affairs with Jules and Alfred de Musset with the bare minimum spent on Chopin. Jules and de Musset struck me as weak and manipulative. Chopin, while he may have been sickly, felt more equal to her mentally, creatively, and in strength of character. Her romantic relationships, with the exception of Chopin and Alexandre Manceau, came across as sad, hurtful, and ultimately unsatisfying. Classic examples of a strong woman entangled with weaker men who, perhaps jealous of her many strengths, use and manipulate her even if it’s unknowingly.
There were non-romantic relationships that dropped away or were ignored that I would have enjoyed seeing explored more, such as with her daughter Solange, particularly after Chopin’s death, her son Maurice, and her half-sister Caroline.
Personally speaking, a more balanced focus on her works, personal, familial, professional, and romantic relationships would have perhaps given a more rounded picture of the writer deemed the most brilliant of her era.
Overall THE DREAM LOVER is still an enjoyable read, especially for lovers of historical fiction.