Title: Freud's Mistress
Author: Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
How I Read It: ARC received from the publisher - The views expressed in my review are mine alone and I have received no compensation for these opinions.
My Rating: 3 Crowns
Synopsis: His theories would change the world - and tear hers apart...
In the vibrant, extravagant world of turn-of-the-century Vienna, Minna Bernays is an overeducated lady's companion with a sharp, wry wit. Unwilling to settle and marry, she has spent years working for frivolous, difficult women, stuck in a social limbo, neither servant nor master. When Minna is abruptly fired, she finds herself out on the street and out of options. In 1895, the city is aswirl with avant-garde artists and writers and revolutionary ideas, but a single woman's only hope for security is still marriage. In desperation, she turns to her sister, Martha, for help.
But Martha has her own problems - six young children and an overworked, disinterested husband who happens to be the brilliant but imperious 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, her sister is fascinated by his startling discoveries.
Minna is everything Martha is not - intellectually curious, engaging, and passionate. Minna and Freud embark on what is, at first, simply a meeting of the minds, but something deeper is brewing beneath the surface, an inevitable catastrophe that she cannot escape.
In this sweeping tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal, fact and fiction meld seamlessly together. After years of research, the authors have constructed 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.
* Synopsis taken from the book jacket
My Review: In this novel, we get to explore what may have happened between Minna and Sigmund Freud. Although there is a lot of speculation, from a historical perspective, we don't know for sure if this affair ever happened. However, speculation in historical fiction is one of my favorite things, so I was all for this ride!
Minna is a rather entertaining character, just the sort of woman I like to read about due to her progressive nature. From what I can tell based on actual accounts of her, she really was a reasonably progressive woman for her time, and I really like that. Although she did spend more time worrying about what Freud thought of her than I would have liked, but I guess a woman can only be so progressive!
That all being said, I had such high hopes for Minna throughout the book, and I felt like she didn't live up to them. Minna seemed to lose a lot of her independence as a result of her relationship with Freud, and I generally prefer more of an attitude from my heroines where they are completely willing to leave the men in their lives behind based on what they think is best for them. I didn't see this with Minna, which made me rather sad, particularly at the end of the novel.
Freud also comes across as such a selfish jerk a lot of the time, which seems about right for him based on common perception, but still not fun. It's one of those situations where I kind of wish I could have met him in person, just to see what he was like, and find out if these ideas about him were right or not.
On the whole, this wasn't my favorite read, but it was still enjoyable and an interesting look into life before women's suffrage.
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