Saturday, July 19, 2014

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

In fin-de-siècle Vienna, it was not easy for a woman to find fulfillment both intellectually and sexually. 

But many believe that Minna Bernays was able to find both with one man—her brother-in-law, Sigmund Freud. 

At once a portrait of two sisters—the rebellious, independent Minna and her inhibited sister, Martha—and of the compelling and controversial doctor who would be revered as one of the twentieth century’s greatest thinkers, Freud’s Mistress is a novel rich with passion and historical detail and “a portrait of forbidden desire [with] a thought-provoking central question: How far are you willing to go to be happy?”

Received for review.

I've been reading quite a bit about Freud lately and I must say that the more I read about him the more I dislike him.

I gather that this was supposed to be a romance but I frankly found Freud and Minna's behavior completely distasteful.  On Freud's part to be carrying on with his wife's sister is just disgusting, but for Minna to betray her sister like that left me speechless.  I suppose as a reader I was supposed to sympathize with Minna and Freud and their "forbidden love" but seriously, they were both behaving like children and completely betraying the sister and wife who loved them both.  I don't understand how I was supposed to feel any sympathy for Minna at all, let alone Freud.  Minna was just a disgusting human being.  I actually took quite a bit of pleasure discovering that Martha outlived both her despicable husband and her scum of a sister.

The complete lack of morality in those two aside this was a beautifully written book.  It fully immersed you in the time period, the affair, and the household politics.  Every scene was told in such lovely detail that you could imagine every illicit action - whether you wanted to or not.  

If you can ignore the fact that these were actual people who went around hurting other real people then it may make for a nice, borderline romantic read.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

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