This is a compelling fictional biography of one of France’s most talented but often misunderstood female writers. Berg takes readers on an exploratory journey into the depths of George Sand’s heart and soul in recreating her controversial life. The author presents the narrative with much authenticity, understanding and admiration.
The novel is written in the first-person, with the protagonist doubling as narrator. I’m aware that this is a popular style of writing, but for me, the weakness in such a style is that it becomes easy to indulge in the protagonist and to make him/her seem larger-than-life, and this renders the narrator a little untrustworthy.
The story runs on two parallel timelines, one starting from Sand’s childhood and the other from the point when she is divorced from her husband, with the two parts alternating in sequence. As the reader learns of the protagonist’s engagement in amorous relationships after the divorce, he/she understands her reasons better because of the doses of information on her childhood/adolescence that are being simultaneously fed through.
In general, this is a touching story of Sand’s life. We see her as a romantic feminist, a literary genius juggling fame, love and family, a doting and sensual lover (for both sexes), a loving and dedicated parent, a loyal and compassionate friend and an innate music lover all rolled into one.
But this is also a lucent study of the perceived notion and reality of romantic love, of the hardships and dilemmas of motherhood, of an artist’s struggles against melancholia, and of an idealistic way for a woman to balance work and emotional needs.
In my view, it fully deserves 4 stars.