Review: Becoming George Sand

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Becoming George SandBecoming George Sand by Rosalind Brackenbury
Published by Mariner Books on March 17, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Maria Jameson is having an affair—a passionate, lifechanging affair. She asks: Is it possible to love two men at once? Must this new romance mean an end to love with her husband?

For answers, she reaches across the centuries to George Sand, the maverick French novelist who took many lovers. Immersing herself in the life of this revolutionary woman, Maria struggles with the choices women make and wonders if women in the nineteenth century might have been more free, in some ways, than their twenty-first-century counterparts.

Here, Rosalind Brackenbury creates a beautiful portrait of the ways in which women are connected across history. Two narratives delicately intertwine—following George through her affair with Frederic Chopin, following Maria through her affair with an Irish professor—and bring us a novel that explores the personal and the historical, the demands of self and the mysteries of the heart. Sharply insightful, Becoming George Sand asks how we make our lives feel vibrant while still acknowledging the gifts of our pasts, and challenges our understanding of love in all its forms—sparkling and new, mature, rekindled, and renewed.

The description of this book, at least as I wrote it, does not remotely do the book credit. Largely because the story is not the real point. I mean, it is and it isn’t. More than being about a plot it’s about what it’s like being a woman, about the spaces between love and marriage, about feminism, and about literature and language. The writing is completely gorgeous, sucking me in from the first pages, even though the opening scenes chronicle the affair, a thing in which I have little interest. To me, there is no excuse for cheating and I do not believe Maria’s romanticized idea of it (and not just because I know what happens later); the treatment of the affair in early pages reminds me of Chretien de Troyes, and how in that time folks believed that true love had to be extramarital.

Rather than speaking to what I loved and didn’t (what little there was of that) as I usually do, I really want to include some of my favorite quotes and let the author speak for herself.

“‘You can’t be loved whatever you do. You have to be someone good, to be loved. People can’t just love you for existing.’
‘Hmm. Well, maybe. You don’t believe in unconditional love?’
‘Yes, I do, but it’s for babies. You have to be worthy of love.'” (221).

“That’s it, the last gesture of a long friendship lived over distance and time, without frequent meetings, between two languages; a friendship built over books, plays, poems, the written word.” (252).

“What is it she needs, at this point in her life? To touch another life, to have it touch hers. To create, to understand. To give back. To be part of a whole.” (286)

Brackenbury obviously wholeheartedly loves and appreciates literature, which makes her such a joy to read. I now want to check out George Sand and to read a biography of her life, as she sounds fascinating. Today’s song is dedicated to George, Maria and all the other optimistic women who keep looking for love and thinking they’ve found it (and sometimes been wrong about that).

One response to “Review: Becoming George Sand”

  1. Heather says:

    This does sound really good! Thanks for bringing my attention to it.

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