Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Interview with Elizabeth Berg

I'm thrilled to share my interview with novelist Elizabeth Berg, whose newest release is a rich historical novel about French novelist George Sand (Aurore Dupin). As I'm the world's slowest reader these days, I'm very behind on my review, but excited to have a chance to "talk" to Berg about this book, her writing, and what she does when she's not reading. To see what others think of The Dream Lover, be sure to check out the blog tour.

The Dream Lover
View it on Goodreads
Hardcover: 368 pages
Random House (April 14, 2015)

A passionate and powerful novel based on the scandalous life of the French novelist George Sand, her famous lovers, nontraditional Parisian lifestyle, and bestselling novels in Paris during the 1830s and 40s. This major departure for bestseller Berg is for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.

George Sand was a 19th century French novelist known not only for her novels but even more for her scandalous behavior. After leaving her estranged husband, Sand moved to Paris where she wrote, wore men’s clothing, smoked cigars, and had love affairs with famous men and an actress named Marie. In an era of incredible artistic talent, Sand was the most famous female writer of her time. Her lovers and friends included Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugene Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more. In a major departure, Elizabeth Berg has created a gorgeous novel about the life of George Sand, written in luminous prose, with exquisite insight into the heart and mind of a woman who was considered the most passionate and gifted genius of her time.

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

It was a short story about a woman who has lost a friend to suicide. The woman is in a diner she frequents regularly, looking around, seeing how the things you witness there--newspapers, eggs over easy, the conversations you overhear--can offer comfort. She's wishing her friend could have found something she needed there.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I like to write early in the morning, and try not to think too much about what I'm going to write. I like to just let it happen, to trust in the process. I have a word taped onto my computer: TRUE. Even though most of what I write is fiction, I like it to come from a place of absolute authenticity.

Was The Dream Lover the original title?

Nope. It was The Bird Lover. But everybody but me liked The Dream Lover better. But now I love that title, too. Who doesn't like the word "dream"?

Anything surprise you in the writing of The Dream Lover?

So many things surprised me, but most of all the character of George Sand. I had thought of her as a ruthless, incredibly strong woman. In some ways, she was. But in many others, she was so vulnerable. And she was a fool in love, just like the rest of us.

When you're not writing, what do you like to do?

I'm afraid the first answer that comes to mind is: EAT. From the time I was a little girl, I have been in love with food. So I love cooking and eating, but I also love walks outside, looking for unexpected treasures in antiques stores, admiring any dog that comes along, and going to plays, movies, concerts and art museums.

Read any good books recently?

I'm in the middle of Volume 2 of My Struggle. It's fascinating! I also loved Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread, and Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.


  1. Berg and I like the same things, except for the cooking part. Fun interview!

  2. I have this one but haven't had the chance to read it yet (I seem to say that more and more each day :( ). It sounds fascinating! I read a nonfiction book about George Sands and found her utterly compelling. Excited to read this one too! thanks for the cool interview!