By: Cynthia Ayala
The Dream Lover, published April 14, 2014
by New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg is a historical fiction novel published by Random House that circles around the scandalous life of 19th century French novelist George Sand.
A thorough and enticing depiction of the life of George Sand, going back and forth between the past and the characters present to unfold the story of who this person was, what her identity was, and how she defined herself not as a woman but as a person, an individual without a gender. Berg tells a brilliant story here of one of French’s more brilliant writer, someone who dipped her passion of life, love and dreams into the written word. Berg does the same, tapping into who this person was and mastering her [Sand] way of telling the story, her life.
The one big issue with the story telling is how jumpy it comes off in the beginning. Readers have no idea that this novel is going to jump back and forth from Sand’s past to the present and while it makes an interesting way to tell the story, it is a little jarring. This is mainly due to the fact that the instances in the past somewhat reflect an event in the future, however, it’s not always clear as to what and going from the adult hood to childhood and vice versa feels confusing for the reader. Nevertheless, the story is still brilliantly told and after a few instances of this happening, the readers becomes used to it going back and forth to the point where it becomes unnoticeable and just part of the narrative.
It takes very good storytelling to meld the past and the present together so well and that is what makes this story captivating. Developing a story that is told in fragments while keeping the plot and story intact. Readers get to know a historical figurehead that bent the rules of gender in the way she dressed and acted in the 19th century. More than that, however, it was incredibly intoxicating as far as the story went. This woman had a very exciting and turbulent life filled with affair after affair following a loveless marriage and children who both very different from her, yet similar in the decisions that they made. All of that combined made this a very humanistic story, very realistic and it’s clear that Berg did her research as she told this story. A perfectly mapped out novel that built the story and the history well enough to bring the story to life. The context wasn’t just beautiful because of the history, but the detail, imagery and narrative were all incredibly soulful.
Elizabeth Berg has left her mark in this historical fiction genre with The Dream Lover, by creating such a wonderful and beautiful narrative, readers get to know this figure, they feel what she felt, and lived through her through the words on these pages. (★★★☆☆ | A-)