TLC Book Review & Giveaway: Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

Title: Freud’s Mistress
Author: Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman
ISBN: 0399163077
Pages: 368
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
Cupcake Rating:  An excellent cupcake with sprinkles AND a cherry on top!


A page-turning novel inspired by the true-life love affair between Sigmund Freud and his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, set in Vienna in 1895. Minna is everything her sister Martha is not—intellectually curious, an avid reader and a beguiling beauty. She and Freud embark on what is at first simply an intellectual courtship, yet something deeper is brewing beneath the surface, something Minna cannot escape.

In this sweeping tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal—between a husband and a wife, between sisters—fact and fiction seamlessly blend together to offer an intimate peek at Minna’s profound influence on the founding father of psychoanalysis, while revealing her unforgettable story of internal conflict and passion.

My Review:

I remember my first introduction class in Psychology, where I learned about the Oedipus Complex (ummm, ewww!), and everything else that he developed.  Having a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Family Therapy, I know Freud’s ideologies pretty well.  Sure, as a student of psychology, I learned about other theorists.  However, Freud is and will always be considered the Father of Psychoanalysis, and quite possibly the Father of Psychology.

So, this book really peaked my interest and I wanted to know more about the life of Freud.  I always knew of his unhealthy relationship (some even say incestuous) that he had with his daughter, and that he left behind his sisters in Austria (taking his staff instead).  However, I didn’t know anything about his affair with his sister-in-law.

The authors did an incredible amount of research, weaving it into a fantastic storyline!  I loved the emotional and humanistic side of Freud, albeit, narcissistic and quite egotistical.  While I found myself not liking the “person” Freud was, I enjoyed reading the relationship and the way Minna (his sister-in-law) dealt with the delicate balance of being a sister and mistress under the same household!

As an observer, I can understand how easily she got swept up into Freud’s world.  While Martha may come across as uncaring and unsupportive of Freud’s development of theories, the authors do a superb job of showing her vulnerability and that of a tired mom of 6, while also maintaining the household as best as she can.  If it were not for Martha’s understanding of Freud and learning when to just step aside, I don’t think Freud would have had the space, time, or creativity to develop theories that are used today.

Minna is a woman that by the standards of that time, was an old maiden.  She was not married and the best she could hope for was to be a governess for a household.  While she cares deeply for the child ( a servant) in the last household she worked, she desires knowledge and is a bibliophile in every since of the word.  With nowhere to go, she arrives at Martha and Sigmund’s house, with low esteem and feeling hopeless.

Couple a hopeless, destitute woman with a man that is self-centered, eccentric, and full of wild theories, Minna is a sponge and soon their relationship evolves from in-law, to supporters, to lovers.

As the story evolves, there is so much that happens, that it is almost hard to believe it to be true.  Sadly, it is and the authors left me saddened for the Freuds, Minna, and thankful that a personal side to Freud was shown with such transparency.

It’s an excellent read and those who love Historical fiction and/or Women’s literature, will certainly enjoy this book.  There is absolutely no requirement to knowing anything about Sigmund Freud, but I guarantee you, that after this read-you will most certainly do some googling! ;)

*A huge thanks to the publishers and TLC Book Tours for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book!

Freud’s Mistress is the third novel by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman. Their first novel, Literacy and Longing in L.A., reached #1 on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List and won the Best Fiction Award from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. Their second novel, A Version of the Truth, was also a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Freud’s Mistress is their first historical novel. Karen Mack, a former attorney, is a Golden Globe Award-winning film and television producer. Jennifer Kaufman is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and a two-time winner of the national Penney-Missouri Journalism Award. Both authors live in Los Angeles with their families.

Find out more about Karen and Jennifer at their website, and

connect with them on Facebook.

TLC Book Tour Stops

Monday, September 2nd: BookNAround

Monday, September 2nd: Peppermint PhD

Tuesday, September 3rd: The Lost Entwife

Wednesday, September 4th: Unabridged Chick

Friday, September 6th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, September 9th: A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, September 10th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, September 11th: A Novel Review

Thursday, September 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, September 13th: My Bookshelf

Monday, September 16th: Read Lately

Monday, September 16th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, September 17th: WalkieTalkieBookClub

Wednesday, September 18th: Lectus

Friday, September 20th: Book-alicious Mama

Friday, September 27th: guiltless reading

Monday, September 30th: Lavish Bookshelf


One random winner will be selected to win a hardback copy of this fantastic book!

Simply enter in the comment section:

*Your name as you’d like it to appear

*Email to contact you

*What about this book or Freud himself interests you?

    Giveaway closes September 30, 2013.

23 thoughts on “TLC Book Review & Giveaway: Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

  1. We have similiar educational backgrounds! I have Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Counseling & Guidance. I learned so much about Freud’s theories and his students theories but not much about him. I didn’t even know that he had a mistress! I am curious about his love life!

    Carol Wong


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    • Hi Carol,
      Thanks for visiting my blog! I am so excited to meet another learner of Psychology. I find Freud’s theories fascinating and he is seriously a genius. While this book is fiction, there is truth to the affair between Freud and his sister-in-law. I am sure you will enjoy the storyline and appreciate the writing from both fantastic authors!

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  2. Dear Book in the Burbs…
    Interesting review..there is so very much to learn about Freud, his family, and the historical elements of psychoanalysis – particularly how it has influenced, even shaped, culture. I only offer the caution that this novel is a ‘novel,’ with all the embellishments inherent in blending fact and fiction. (my copy is on order – I’ve not yet read it)
    Psychoanalysis was in its infancy during the period that you’re discussing – and many of the early psychoanalysts had difficulties in separating out their family lives, children, patients, etc…Though I think today, many orthodox analysts still cling to hard rules, the perspectives have changed so dramatically in patient care, analysis, psychotherapy, and such – that one needs to read historical fiction with somewhat of a researcher’s attitude – or perhaps the educated skepticism of Bertrand Russell.
    All the best, Rudy

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    • Hi Rudy,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog! I absolutely agree with your comments and do have much appreciation for the work that Freud did and how he influenced other theorists in the field of Psychology. While the first couple of paragraphs are about my personal story, the rest of the review is based on how the book was written. It is my intention and hope that readers will understand that my review is based on my personal opinion of the storyline and how the characters were portrayed in this particular book. This is a work of historical fiction, focused primarily on Minna and her relationships. While there is some truth to the story, the authors did a superb job in building from those truths and creating a fantastic storyline. While the book does not dive into Freud’s theories, it does give a very a humanistic side to a man, who for many is quite revered, and who developed theories during a time when many of the topics he wrote on where taboo. I do not believe that the story will sway people to like or dislike Freud and/or his theories. Overall, readers will appreciate the author’s detail and research used to create a storyline.

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      • Thank you for your response. Historical aspects of psychoanalytic thought and development are important to me…as I write a lot in this area. I also enjoy a good story, so I appreciate your review immensely. If you’re interested, see my wordpress site – it includes some reviews done – and some interesting links. Rudy

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      • I’d love to follow your blog, and will do so after responding! I am drawn to anything dealing with psychology and family systems, as I am a therapist by profession. Couple that with my love for reading, and it’s heaven!! I appreciate your visit and hope to hear how you enjoyed “Freud’s Mistress”.

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  3. Freud is a fascinating man whose legacy lives on. The historical aspect, his life, and the influence he has had upon so many interests me greatly. The depth, profound story and the background of this book is memorable and special.

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  4. I love the history in this book. But I would also like to find out what happens between the sisters. Does Martha find out? I would enjoy reading it. Thanks for having the giveaway.
    Anita Yancey

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  5. Pingback: Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman, authors of Freud’s Mistress, on tour August/September 2013 | TLC Book Tours

  6. Pingback: “Freud’s Mistress” post – coming soon! | WalkieTalkieBookClub

  7. Pingback: Current Giveaways! | Books in the Burbs

  8. Shannon Leigh
    mosthappyreader (at) gmail (dot) com

    I would love to know why he is obsessed with mothers and why he focused so much on the early years as the foundation of psychological disorders.

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  9. I’ve been reading about the women behind the men lately… Hemmingway, Fitzgerald … when I saw this book a few months back I knew I have to read it.
    Thanks for the giveaway and review.


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  10. Pingback: “Freud’s Mistress” by Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman | WalkieTalkieBookClub

  11. Pingback: A new book website:Bookish. | Cool lady blog

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