Freud's Mistress

( 25 )

Overview

“A thrilling story of seduction, betrayal, and loss, Freud’s Mistress will titillate fans of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Other Boleyn Girl.”—Booklist

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, ...

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Overview

“A thrilling story of seduction, betrayal, and loss, Freud’s Mistress will titillate fans of Memoirs of a Geisha and The Other Boleyn Girl.”—Booklist

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?”*

*Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

At first, historians regarded the story of Sigmund Freud's affair with his sister-in-law Minna Bernays as nothing more than the scurrilous attempt of a rival to deflate the reputation of the founder of psychoanalysis. In recent years, however, new research has enhanced the veracity of that claim. In this new novel by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman (A Version of the Truth; Literacy and Longing in L.A.), Bernays arrives in 1895 Vienna, soon to become enmeshed in the knot of a very Freudian human drama. A historical novel that resonates with the genius, abandon, and closely guarded secrets of the time. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
05/13/2013
A portrait of forbidden desire based on historical speculations, Mack and Kaufman’s thoroughly researched novel explores the difficult moral questions that can arise from adultery. It all begins in 1895 at Berggasse 19 in Vienna, an apartment that’s home to Sigmund and Martha Freud, their six children, and the household’s latest addition, Minna Bernays, Martha’s sister, who’s in between jobs. In contrast to her hypochondriac domestic sister, Minna is an unmarried, intellectually inclined “bibliomaniac,” and is stimulated, rather than repulsed, by Sigmund’s research—especially his controversial theories about sexuality. Minna happily strokes her brother-in-law’s ego in drug-fueled late-night discussions of philosophy, his patients’ sexual traumas, and his own difficult marriage. When Minna finally comes to terms with her attraction to the charismatic Sigmund, she tries to resist these dangerous impulses, only to fall into a passionate affair after an improbably romantic overture from the father of psychoanalysis. Minna grapples with the “burden of betrayal” and Sigmund’s cunning rationalizations while trying to answer this novel’s clichéd but nonetheless thought-provoking central question: how far are you willing to go to be happy? Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Agency. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
A fictionalized account of Sigmund Freud's romantic involvement with his sister-in-law. Mack and Kaufman (A Version of the Truth, 2007, etc.) collaborate for a third time to produce a novel based loosely on unsubstantiated conjecture that Sigmund Freud and his wife's sister, Minna Bernays, had a love affair while living under the same roof. After being fired from yet another job as a lady's companion, intelligent and outspoken Minna is welcomed into the chaotic Freud household. Sigmund and Martha have six children, and Martha has a variety of physical complaints, so she welcomes her sister's help. Minna becomes intrigued with her brother-in-law's work, and they begin to spend hours in his study discussing his theories of human behavior, which, Freud claims, have deep sexual roots that must be brought to the conscious level. Their conversations and long walks provide the catalyst for a deeper attraction, and eventually, Freud and Minna's relationship progresses from plain kinfolk to cheating kinfolk. Is Freud really a man whose wife doesn't understand him? Does Martha know or care that her husband's engaged in intimate acts with her own sister? Neither spouse appears overly concerned about the activities of the other. Martha spends much of her time in an opium-induced haze (she even spoons her wonderful elixir into the kids at the first sign of illness), while Sigmund prefers to heighten his sensations with a nose full of coca, a habit he introduces to Minna, who has her own way of dealing with the world: cigarettes and secreted bottles of gin. Freud shocks the scientific community with his Studies in Hysteria, and Minna's racked with guilt and flees to another city. But she's soon back with the Freud family to face more affair-related crises, wonder just how much her sister knows, and do a lot more soul-searching before they all pack up and move to England. Freud's theories about human sexuality and behavior may be considered pretty wild, but his own sex life comes across as dull. Readers with an interest in the private life of Sigmund Freud may find the book of interest.
Library Journal
Too outspoken to succeed as a lady's companion or to settle for a marriage of convenience, Minna Bernays seeks a temporary solution to her financial difficulties by moving in with her sister Martha's family. Overwhelmed by managing a household with six young children, Martha welcomes Minna's assistance. Her husband, Sigmund Freud, rarely interacts with the family and concentrates on unconventional psychological theories at odds with those of his academic colleagues. Unlike Martha, Minna finds his ideas about sexuality intriguing, if also disturbing. She tries to deny the physical tension underlying their late-night conversations. Freud has no such qualms. Despite Minna's attempts to break from him, his attraction proves overwhelming. Although this third novel by Mack and Kaufman (Literacy and Longing in L.A.; A Version of the Truth) focuses on Minna, the narrative develops other characters as well. Martha can be manipulator as well as victim. Freud's intellect and charm shine through his self-centeredness. Rumors about Freud and his sister-in-law, who in real life lived with the family for more than 40 years, abound. This novel, inspired by historical events, places the possible affair between Freud and Minna firmly in the intellectual and social milieu of fin de siècle Vienna. VERDICT Historical romance fans will speed through the pages and find fodder for book club discussions. [See Prepub Alert, 1/26/12.]—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399163074
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
  • Publication date: 7/9/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 272,682
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman are the authors of two bestselling novels, Literacy and Longing in L.A. and A Version of the Truth. They both reside in Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Over the years there has been speculation of an affair between F

    Over the years there has been speculation of an affair between Freud and his sister-in-law, Minna Berneays. Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman looked at historical facts and created a very interesting fictionalized story of what happened between them.
    Minna worked in a number of homes as a Lady’s Companion. When she lost yet another job she went and stayed with her sister, Martha and her husband Sigmund Freud. There she helped her sister tend her six children. Martha seems overwhelmed with the children and the task of running the house. Minna observes her sister is an avid user of opium (even giving the opium to the children). Freud is consumed by his work and proving his theories (Oedipus Complex) to his fellow colleagues.




    Minna is a different sort of woman in her own right. She is an avid reader, follows politics, she is intellectually curious about the world. Minna almost immediately becomes intrigued by Freud’s work. The two begin to spend a considerable amount of time together discussing his work, while Freud is barely around Martha and the children. Slowly an intellectual affair occurs between the two. As the two grow closer is that really enough?




    Freud’s Mistress was immediately added to my wishlist when I read about it. I really enjoy reading fictionalized stories about real life people. I have a tremendous appreciation for the amount of research it must take. Like most people I was well aware of Freud’s theories and was interested in learning more about the man himself.




    In the novel, Freud comes off very full of himself and rather uninterested in those around him, very egotistical. His wife, Martha seemed so overwhelmed by her life. I was fairly sympathetic to her. Freud seemed very uninterested in his wife since her world did not revolve around him. Then there is Minna.  I was a little surprised she was not more upset by Freud’s indifference to her sister. As a sister, I would be upset if I saw my brother-in-law act the way Freud did and I would like to think I wouldn’t be pulled into his world.




    The build-up of the relationship between Minna and Freud seemed to take awhile to get moving, so the beginning of the novel was slow. The story was written with a third person point of view, which almost exclusively centered on Minna. I really enjoyed the story and thought it was well written, but the one thing I found is occasionally the authors would suddenly center on Freud or Martha for a single sentence or paragraph and I found that slightly jarring to read. It was rarely done, but wanted to mention it. Over all I really enjoyed the novel. 




    I would definitely recommend Freud’s Mistress, but I would say give the novel some time to develop. Once the story really got moving, I was swept away.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    Yawn

    Psychology majors will enjoy this book more than i did. Too much time spent on theories and not enough developing the relationship.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Out of work and no where to go, Minna had no other recourse bu



    Out of work and no where to go, Minna had no other recourse but to ask her sister to take her in.

    Minna knew the household wouldn't be calm with six children and a household staff¿, but she managed. In fact, she managed very well. The children fell in love with her and so did her brother-in-law. Or did he really fall in love with her or was she simply a convenience?¿

    Sigmund Freud ¿betrayed ¿¿his wife, ¿and Minna betrayed her sister. The affair started out with ¿early evening and some ¿late night meetings that included flirting and drugs. Did his wife know about the affair or was she too addicted to opium to even notice?

    You will definitely dislike Sigmund Freud as a person and question his thinking about why people develop psychological disorders. He was arrogant, a smooth operator, apparently quite good looking,¿ and he used his field of study to his advantage. He was not a kind man especially to women, but he knew how to seduce Minna. He had no regard for his wife who had six children with him.

    Minna, “the mistress," was actually likable because even though she knew she couldn't stop herself about wanting to be with Freud, she did feel guilty. ¿ It was funny to be reminded that women of that era were so set on only finding a husband and no career per say except as domestic help, a companion for another woman, or caring for children.

    FREUD’S MISTRESS was enjoyable and very well written. The book flowed nicely, and you could actually visualize everything and feel the characters' emotions and moods because of Ms. Mack’s and Ms. Kaufman’s marvelous writing skills.¿

    Some of the characters and some of the situations were comical. Love, infidelity, history, comedy, Freud's theories, ¿and social issues were the main themes.¿

    It is always interesting to¿ look into the life of a famous person especially during the 1800's. ¿If you like historical fiction, you should enjoy FREUD'S MISTRESS. 4/5

    The ending notes from the authors that contained information about Sigmund Freud's life was quite interesting and helpful.

    This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.¿

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  • Posted June 11, 2014

    ¿A Tender Love Story Punctuated With Misplaced Loyalty and Betra

    “A Tender Love Story Punctuated With Misplaced Loyalty and Betrayal”

    At almost thirty years of age, attractive and well-educated Minna Bernays should be married with children, but instead, she is employed by brusque, stern, unsympathetic Baroness Wolff as her “Lady’s Companion”—that is, until she left her employ, taking 10 yr. old scullery maid, Flora with her. Minna had been hired and fired several times before, so the question of future employment was not foremost on her mind—the safety and well-being of the child was. When the realization of how difficult finding another job at her age was going to be, and knowing she could not go back to her childhood home to be with her estranged, widowed Mother, she wrote to her older Sister, Martha, hoping to stay with her and her family until another opportunity presented itself. As it so happens, Martha’s Husband is struggling Professor, Dr. Sigmund Freud. Martha and Sigmund have six children, with the youngest being an infant, so, perhaps, Minna thinks, they could use her help. She is welcomed into the household and,little by little, discovers her Sister’s marriage is not all she had figured it might be. Cold, demanding, hypochondriac Martha and the aloof, self-centered, workaholic Sigmund are quite the pair. His overworked demeanor from dusk to dawn holds mountains of paperwork that neither his colleagues nor his wife were interested in-- in fact, Martha proclaimed them as pornography. Dr. Freud was convinced that sexual impulses were the root of many types of problems. The only one interested in his theories is Minna, who worked her way into his study, and ultimately, into his heart. Frightened, Minna tried to separate herself from the family and the temptations that surrounded her, but, to no avail. She became entangled in something she never thought she’d ever consider—an affair with her Sister’s Husband! The stress and guilt engulf her as much as the all-consuming passion she feels for the bearded, egotistical Dr. and she knows this will only end badly. Ms. Mack and Ms. Kaufman have painted a vivid portrait of the several faces of love. Their works will have you completely enraptured within this tender love story punctuated by misplaced loyalty and betrayal. I have my own theories of what really happened in Meran and it includes selfishness and misplaced trust. This volume is also a combination of fiction and fact, including the real letters that were discovered and released by the Freuds’ Daughter, Anna in 1972. Once you start this book, you won’t want to put it down! Make room on your bookshelf for this one—you will not be disappointed!
    Nancy Narma

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    Loved it

    Addicting book.

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  • Posted October 19, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A piece of hist

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    A piece of historical fiction that had me always guessing where the truth ended.  Sigmund Freud is not so happily married and his sister-in-law has lost her fiancee to disease, so after a few jobs as companions to other ladies, she is invited to move into the Freud home - drama ensues.

    As I didn't know much about Freud in general, I found this book to be interesting because it made quite a few mentions of how Freud came up with his theories.  I took a few breaks in the book to read up on Freud and find out more about him and the science he created.  My favorite character was his wife, at first I found her to be homely, naive and just oblivious to all the things going on around her, but she definitely had some character growth and ended up being a stand out character.  I felt for Minna as she was trying to find her own life and I am not sure if she ever did.

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  • Posted October 18, 2013

    This is a solid read.

    Although I felt the story got a bit tedious at times and went on just a beat too long, I did enjoy this book. Since this is based on real people and some true events, I found it fun to research the individuals involved. This is a good book club selection; the conversation is sure to flow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Strongly recommend

    Very interesting! I learned a great deal about the time period, Freud as a person and doctor and the role of women associated with famous men. This is a good choice for a book club read and discussion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2013

    Good Read

    Enjoyed the story and writer.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    Very interesting reading

    This writing was a good combination of fact and fiction. Lots of things one didn't know about Freud and his "issues," and how others around him handles theirs!

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    If you like to know the "inside" of Freud you will enjoy this book.

    A fast read...never a dull moment..I walked away with a better understanding about the enigma known as Freud!
    I highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Spellbinding!

    Who knew Freud was such a bastard!!!! A genius of his time, maybe -- but still a bastard!

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    Good in many ways

    Freud's Mistress
    was of particular interest as I enjoy Victorian
    Literature. I have a degree in psych so enjoy
    the Freud character and the development of
    His theories. I am interested in troubled
    marriages and this one was a doozy!!
    From hotel receipts I do believe Freud had
    This mistress. I also believe he was
    "Kind of crazy" himself as a lot of people in
    Psychology and psychiatry are :)
    Crazy in an interesting way of course.
    I enjoyed the history, politics, and mores of the
    times and how they effected the development
    Of his theories and his own behavior.
    He especially was a horrible husband, even
    an "unfaithful" lover. His parenting skills
    were bizarre but maybe not so strange for
    era.
    Anyway, I truly enjoyed this book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Okay

    The problem with this kind of book is that the blend of fact and fiction is difficult to obtain. The book fails to hold the reader's attention in either area. This is sad, because the story had possibilities.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Interesting but not riveting

    Despite the 2 stars, I found this book an interesting read but it seems the authors just didn't have that much to go on. The Freud's must have been very private to have so little known about them. Perhaps the authors could have gone a bit more into Freud's upbringing or to help fill his complexities out even more. I was looking for more psychology in this book about the father of psychoanalysis. That said, I did enjoy the snapshots of fin de siecle Vienna.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Great Read

    Couldn't put it down. Loved the mix of facts & fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Disappointing!

    Story not well developed. Looking for a great read-had no trouble putting it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    Historical fiction at its best! I could not put this book down.

    Historical fiction at its best! I could not put this book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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