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BECOMING GEORGE SAND by Rosalind Brackenbury

BECOMING GEORGE SAND

By Rosalind Brackenbury

Pub Date: March 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-37054-5
Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Parallel love stories link and illuminate the lives of two women, the 19th-century French writer George Sand and a Scottish academic writing about her.

English poet and novelist Brackenbury (Windstorm and Flood, 2007, etc.) brings striking sensitivity and lyrical phrasing to her tale of women struggling with their needs for passion and creativity. Dr. Maria Jameson, an academic in Edinburgh with a happy, if unspectacular, 20-year-long marriage to Edward and two children, also has a wonderful lover, an arrangement which suits her but is less satisfactory for Edward, who discovers the adultery when he and Maria are away visiting Majorca. Compelled by a sense of connection to the emancipated French woman, Maria is writing a book on Sand, who herself had many lovers, famously Chopin, with whom she made a difficult journey to Majorca. Later, after their relationship lost its passion, Sand enjoyed a lengthy correspondence with Flaubert, which Maria reads and values when Edward moves out and her affair ends: She begins to see work may be easier with the men absent. Events and her research bring her ever closer to identification with Sand and her sense of optimism, along with the understanding that "[w]hat matters is to live at the place where the heart connects with the world.”

Slender and a little too neat, but a resonant meditation on love, literature and lived experience.