I probably shouldn’t have read this novel as I was listening to Nancy Horan’s novel, Under the Wide and Starry Sky, but in truth, they were a good pair to read together. They covered a similar period of time, were set mainly in Europe, and showed the great disparity in the lives of a successful male and female writer of the time.
This story of Aurore Dupin, better known as George Sand, is a scandalous tale of a woman who in many ways lived the life of her male counterparts; dressing as a man to gain access to venues where women were not allowed. According to Berg, the great love of Sand’s life was a woman; but as this did not seem fated for her, she managed to overcome her sadness with a slew of other famous lovers. It seemed as though every handsome man was a potential lover to Sand, and she was always on the brink of her next great love affair. If it was not based on a true story, I probably wouldn’t have believed it — she leaves her husband, and falls for the lawyer, her lover seems on his deathbed, she sleeps with the doctor in the next room. She was one of those women who always think that men are checking her out, and, apparently, they were!
Berg’s story held the most interest for me in the difficult early years of Sand at her family home at Nohant, in France. In her writing life, Berg describes Sand’s process of combining drama-filled days with long nights spent on her work; a determined woman intent on earning her own way. She was a fierce critic of her contemporaries, and she didn’t suffer fools or lazy writers, especially if she was sleeping with them. I should admit at this point that I have not read a book by Sand, but honestly, despite being well-written and thoughtful, this book covered all I really ever want to know about her, so I’m good.