The Dream Lover: A Review

Up this week: The Dream Lover: A Novel of George Sand by Elizabeth Berg.

I received an uncorrected proof of this book through the publisher. I am not being compensated in any way for this review. All of the opinions expressed here are my own.

22716467I was hoping that this time around, I’d fall in love with the book I was reviewing. The Dream Lover, a novel based on the scandalous life of the 19th century writer George Sand, seemed promising. Even better was the idea that I would be reading a novel based on an actual person. I’d read the book Frog Music by Emma Donohue recently and really loved it, and that was a novel based on a person too.

The story started out interesting enough, with Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin leaving her husband and children behind to pursue a life of literature in Paris with her writer lover. She adopts the pseudonym “George” to publish her first novel, which brings her instant fame.

Berg uses beautiful, poetic lines and quote-worthy phrases that immerse readers into the feeling that Berg is trying to evoke. I teared up when a character in the book died because the scene was so vivid and well written.

I didn’t finish the book though. Frankly, I got pretty bored.

Each chapter switched back and forth between the past and present, which left me disoriented. I might have had an easier time coping with this if I had a paperback copy of the book, but I only had an ebook to work with. It was hard for me to keep track of what was happening during each time period unless I was reading for hours at a time.

I also think that the ratio for showing vs. telling was a bit skewed towards telling. I would have liked to have been thrown into the middle of the action instead of being told that the character got this job or left on a trip to visit that person. The telling made the story seem more redundant.

This is not the worst book I’ve ever read. I would suggest, however, that those who want to attempt it obtain a hard copy of it in order to make the transitions easier to follow.

Quitting on a Bad Book?

Is it ever okay to give up on a book?

I ask because lately, it seems like I can’t find a book that I want to actually finish reading. Besides the Percy Jackson series, I mean. I’m flying through those with an eagerness that I’ve been missing for a long time.

Maybe I’m just becoming a snobby curmudgeon as I age. But seriously, I’m in the middle of 9 books right now and don’t have the desire to pick up and finish any of them. Some of these are books on bestselling lists and titles that many of my bookish friends are raving about. The others are galley copies of books that also received a lot of hype. They range from YA novels to literary fiction to nonfiction.

Great writing is tough, I get it. It’s why I don’t have a novel of my own on the bookstore shelves yet. I applaud each and every author for their efforts and would have to be a complete idiot to say I could do better. Is it just that the wrong books are finding me? Do I need to go through a phase where I pull back from modern fiction and only read the classics? Should I stick only to the authors I trust for awhile?

Do I need to struggle through the story no matter what? I hated Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when I first started reading. I had to get 200 pages deep before the story captivated me. All of the writing advice I’ve ever received said to start out strong and fast paced. Is this the exception, or the rule?

I realize this is mostly rambling and that I’ll still probably read whatever book is thrown at me, but still. It’s frustrating. Am I an awful human being for giving up, possibly too quickly, or do I need to whip out the “life is too short” cliche?