Review: Freud's Sister by Goce Smilevski

Freud's Sister

Title: Freud's Sister
Author: Goce Smilevski
Interpretor: Translator from the Macedonian language, Christina E. Kramer
Publisher: Penguin Group August 28, 2012
Genre: Fiction
Labels: Sigmund Freud, Holocaust, Nazi Germany, Germany, Austria, Family Dysfunction, Freud's Analysis and Beliefs
Format: Paperback
Age: Adult
Pages: 272
Rating: 3

Before I begin my review, Freud's Sister is FICTION. It is not a work of non-fiction. It is not a memoir, nor biography. I even hesitate to call it historical fiction. The author states in the Author's Note that little is known about Freud's sister Adolfina. There is a lot of freedom for artistic expression or interpretation by the author in Freud's Sister. The author chose to use the first person voice of Adolfina (I'll explain more about that underneath My Thoughts).

Adolfina was born Esther Adolfine (Dolfi) Freud on 23 July 1862 and died 5 February 1943. She was a younger sister to Sigmund Freud. Sigmund, or Siggi, as his mother called him, was the child doted on in the family. His parents sent him to college, and to medical school. His parents were of humble means.
Although they were Jewish by blood, they were not Jewish by religion. The children knew little about their ancestry. They were considered to be agnostic.
Aldolphina grew up with a passive-aggressive mother. She could be loving one minute and vindictive the next moment. This is one of the few facts known about Adolphina, was the hostile relationship between mother and daughter.
Adolphina was a super-sensitive person dependent clingy. These character traits were magnified having an abusive mother.
Adophina's world was her thoughts and dreams. Her voice in this story is mainly of her thoughts, of words that never bring forth her feelings. Her life is a life of repression.
Freud's Sister, begins shortly before Sigmund Freud's departure to London, England. Then, the story backs up to the beginnings of the Freud family, centering around Adolphina.

My Thoughts:
I have mixed feelings about this book and give it a 3. I'll explain.
  • A book about Sigmund Freud's family, with himself as a secondary character, would not be complete without using his beliefs. These beliefs include his thoughts on monotheism, religion, dreams, sex, after-life, repression, and psycho-analysis. We will never know if any of these beliefs were believed by Adolphina. We can only speculate. I did wonder at times if the author made Adolphina the female version of Sigmund Freud. Maybe Adolphina believed as Freud did, and maybe she did not. 
  • The family was dysfunctional. The mother had large "issues" in repressed and unacknowledged anger, that she took out on her daughter Adolphina. She abused Adolphina.
  • Sigmund, was poor in character for his lax of moral judgment as far as his sister was concerned. Even children who've had little parental authority do not act out in some of the ways he did. What he did, and what any one like him does, leaves scars. (I know this is a thought in story that is fictional, but it is my opinion). 
  • And further....Freud is a repressed individual as well. He is repressed in morality. He is repressed in the ability to make moral decisions. He is repressed in the ability to believe period. He prefers discussions and detached actions.
  • The descriptive prose in the book went on too long at some points. I felt a bit over-done, like burnt toast.
  • Symbolism is over-used, using the word and descriptions of dreams, repressed words and feelings, birth and babies (signifying life). 
  • There is zero happiness or lightheartedness in this book. If you're already depressed, don't read it. 
  • It is a book that would make a good book discussion. Skip any appetizers or dinner, just conversation on a controversial belief system. 
Why did I give this book a 3 for good?
  1. Gave me a better understanding of Sigmund Freud's belief system.
  2. Gave me a better understanding of Austria during the Holocaust, and World War II.
  3. Gave me a better understanding of what happens when a person becomes a VICTIM of his or her thoughts. 
  4. Was a different sort of read for me. 
A quote from the book (I did not say I like the quote or agree with it, just a quote):
"All normal people are normal in the same way; each mad person is mad in his own way." 
Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $11.64
Kindle $9.99
Freud 1926