Celia Bertin, La Femme à Vienne au temps de Freud (1989)

Call it poor time management or blog fatigue, or just fall. I’ve tallied it up and I have 11 finished books waiting to be reviewed! Good or bad, I can’t seem to let them go into oblivion. I have some serious catch-up to do. So I start the pile with the relatively least appealing one(s).

I picked this book before the holidays on a whim, after a Frank Tallis mystery that left me eager for anything Viennese and anything Freudian. I thought I was spot on, but I discovered instead that the subject was all over the place.

La femme? What woman? Celia Bertin attempts to describe all of them, women from all walks of life, from prostitutes or maids to the Empress Sissi herself, from the unknown to the famous, Lou Andreas Salome and Alma Mahler among them.

Freud’s times, what times? She pictures Vienna from Freud’s youth to his death during WWII, but she also goes way back into Austrian history and mentions Freud’s heritage and his daughters in the post-WWII world; so the time span is quite long and diverse, encompasses the rise and fall of the monarchy, 2 world wars and numerous sociological evolutions.

In short, there was no focus on this book and it sabotaged my reading. Even though there were loads of information and possibly thousands of women mentioned, without order or references, I was never sure if it were the author’s interpretation or proven facts, if it was important or anecdotic. What a shame!

So I’m still dreaming about a good sociological book about Vienna 1900. Suggestions welcome! In the meantime, I’ll try to be patient until Frank Tallis publishes a new mystery. I’m a fan!


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