From The Guardian:
Did they or didn’t they? It had been a year since the start of her doomed affair with the composer Frédéric Chopin, and George Sand took a knife and carved a date on the panelling of the bedroom of her country home at Nohant in France, June 19 1839. Was it the anniversary of the consummation of their love? This was the first affair that the sexually adventurous Sand had had without it going disastrously wrong. Or was it the date when the pair stopped having sex? The composer’s health was failing, and did his lover fear that strenuous activity might kill him?
The question is asked in this thoroughly modern biography, in which Adam Zamoyski seeks to sweep away what he calls the “sugary blur of sentimentality and melodrama” that has traditionally surrounded one of the masters of romantic music. The story of Chopin, the Polish child prodigy who played for the tsar at the age of 15 and went on to compose and perform some of the world’s most sublime piano music before dying tragically early at 39, has been widely told – as has the saga of the unlikely coupling between the fey composer and Sand, the swarthy, mannish, cigar-chomping writer, who had dumped her sick husband while on honeymoon in Venice and run off with the doctor summoned to treat him.