7.17.2014

Freud's Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman - Review

Title: Freud's Mistress

Authors: Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

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BlurbIt is fin-de-siècle Vienna and Minna Bernays, an over-educated lady’s companion with a sharp, wry wit, is abruptly fired, yet again, from her position. She finds herself out on the street and out of options. In 1895, the city may be a swirl with avant-garde artists and revolutionary ideas, yet a woman’s only hope for security is still marriage. But Minna is unwilling to settle. Out of desperation, she turns to her sister, Martha, for help. 

Martha has her own problems—six young children and an absent, disinterested husband who happens to be Sigmund Freud. At this time, Freud is a struggling professor, all but shunned by his peers and under attack for his theories, most of which center around sexual impulses. And while Martha is shocked and repulsed by her husband’s “pornographic” work, Minna is fascinated. 

Minna is everything Martha is not—intellectually curious, engaging, and passionate. She and Freud embark on what is at first simply an intellectual courtship, yet something deeper is brewing beneath the surface, something Minna cannot escape.

In this sweeping tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal—between a husband and a wife, between sisters—fact and fiction seamlessly blend together, creating a compelling portrait of an unforgettable woman and her struggle to reconcile her love for her sister with her obsessive desire for her sister’s husband, the mythic father of psychoanalysis. 

Review I've been letting book blurbs decide my taste in reading lately and I'm finding that it's a poor choice of reasoning. My old faithful cover-whore self is going to have to be the old faithful once again.

This book held real potential having been a fictionalized potentially true story about Freud and his sister-in-law having an affair. I enjoy learning more about history and the intrigue that was promised in this book.

Unfortunately the sister-in-law turned out to be a giant whiner, and put up with the mental abuse that Freud gave her. No matter how he treated her or how wrong she felt the act of adultery with her sister's husband was.

Instead she whined, moaned, and complained throughout the whole book. Once the affair fizzled she became insufferable. All in all not a good pick for the year.