My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
However, despite that was this book quite good. I liked getting a closer look into Freud's own marriage and his close relationship with Martha. It's not proven that they had an affair although there is some documented evidence of it. Still, it was fascinating to read this book, not just for the romance between Freud and Martha, but for the historical setting and how hard it is for Freud to win favor for his ideas.
It's also interesting to read how Freud seems to be obsessed with a person for a time and then move on. At one point is it Martha that captivated him, and in the next moment is there someone else and it's not always sexually, he just finds someone ideas utterly captivating. I do feel sorry for Martha, but then again, the woman that should have most sympathy is Minna. But, she seems to know her husband quite well by then and doesn't seem to care so much about his for the moment passion for Martha. As I wrote above, Freud is an ashole!
Anyway, I quite liked this book, and if you like historical fiction do I recommend this book warmly!