Thursday, April 13

Book Review: Freud's Mistress by Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman

Author: Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman
Title: Freud's Mistress
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 357
Published: Jan 2013
Where I Got It: My Shelf (Give to me by a friend)

Minna Bernays is an overeducated woman with limited options. Fired yet again for speaking her mind, she finds herself out on the street and out of options. In 1895 Vienna, even though the city is aswirl with avant-garde artists and writers and revolutionary are still very few options for women besides marriage. And settling is not something Minna has ever done.

Out of desperation, Minna turns to her older sister, Martha, for help. But Martha has her own problems — six young children, a host of physical ailments, a household run with military precision, and an absent, overworked, disinterested husband who happens to be Sigmund Freud. Freud is a struggling professor, all but shunned by his peers and under attack for his theories, most of which center around sexual impulses, urges, and perversions. While Martha is shocked and repulsed by her husband’s "pornographic" work, Minna is fascinated.

Minna is everything Martha is not—intellectually curious, an avid reader, stunning. But while she and Freud embark on what is at first simply an intellectual courtship, something deeper is brewing beneath the surface, something Minna cannot escape.

I must make a confession. I know SO much of Freud's theories and all that, but I know very little of Freud's personal life. There is a lot of information about himself that he took to the grave because he was a private man, but there are somethings out there. One of the newest beliefs is that he had many affairs including his with his sister-in-law Minna. 

Which, after research and reading this, I can totally get behind that. Minna, even as a spinster, was WAY too close to the family. Heck, she was even asked to be by his side when he died (Martha, the wife, was there too). But! I digress...let's get back to the book.

The book is told in Minna's POV. She is an interesting character and she was for sure born in the wrong era. Poor girl. She is stuck in this position in life because she is 30 now and past her prime (*scoffs to self*). Her fiance died years ago and she never got over it so she never married and has just been a governess.  Due to certain circumstances, she is forced to move in with her sister, Martha, and her hubbie Freud. No matter what she does, she is forced back. It was fate that she stay with them. Sad, really.

Things happen. Freud and Minna give in to their lust. There is some love there (more so on Minna's side) and bad things happen and then the ending happens. I felt like this was a tragedy in my ways. Poor Minna is doomed to be in love with her sister's hubbie and she can never excel in life. She is so smart, but she is doomed to be a nanny/governess/auntie. This book honestly made me really sad. But...I like sad and tragic stories, so it worked. 

Now...let's take a gander at Sigi. First...his theories are off-the-wall. Some things make sense, but some things are just plain crazy talk. Second...he is a gigantic asshat. I loved the one scene when Minna went off the rails at him! I legit huzzahed and clapped:

Sigi, "[she is mad and yelling at him] I can't fathom why you're doing this...."
Minna, "You can't? You study women who are upset. You want to know why they're upset? I'll save you years of research. They're upset because men like you tell lies to women like me who are stupid enough to believe them."

You get 'im gurlll! 

But yes, not surprising Sigi was an asshat. It is precisely how I imagined him. It was hard to really enjoy the romance, because I knew that he was an a-typical asshat who is selfish and in love with lust. SMH. Again...poor Minna AND poor Martha.

I didn't like Martha at the beginning, but I grew to like her towards the end. 

In the end, I was hooked on this book and I really liked it. I didn't like Freud and Martha. However, they were interesting and complex. I did grow to like Martha in the end. I really like Minna. I feel bad that she was stuck in some many ways. I totally recommend this for historical fiction lovers. I'll give this a 5.


Melliane said...

It's an interesting topic there, don't think I've ever tried something like that but I would be curious

Blodeuedd said...

That good?! Cool

Carole Rae said...

Melliane, very interesting topic.

B, yessss