Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 446 pages
"I had to do something to escape Hitler's clutches," writes Esti Freud. Yet she waits with her then-16-year-old daughter, Sophie in Paris, until German canons can be heard in the distance, before deciding to escape by bicycle across France as Sophie keeps looking back to see whether German tanks will overtake them. Both women survive by sheer miracle and, in their own ways, come to feel a need to keep a personal record of those tumultuous times. In a memoir written at age 79, Esti Freud, daughter-in-law of Sigmund Freud and wife of his oldest son Martin, looks back on her life that began before the 20th century, was lived on three continents, and stretched through two world wars and the Holocaust. Twenty years after her mother's death, daughter Sophie turned to Esti's memoir as a scaffold for this book, expanding it through family letters and archival material. Out of these documents the author has created a fascinating, many-voiced mosaic--the story of a famous family and of a century seen through the eyes of many characters. Indomitable Esti was not an easy person to love. While she establishes herself professionally three times, in three different languages, her troubled family relationships leave her lonely, often deeply unhappy. Sophie confides that Esti died without son or daughter at her side. This work gives an insider's, in-law view of the family Freud, its foundations, and flaws. The relationship between Esti, daughter of a wealthy Vienna attorney and her husband Martin Freud is foreshadowed by the young lovers' fathers. At first meeting Esti, Sigmund told his son the glamorous woman was "too beautiful" for the clan, meaning her splendor belied a lifestyle not conducive to the frugal Freud ways. And Esti's father, on hearing of her love for Martin, expressed regret she was involved with a man who was "not a financially favorable linkage," and that his family was not respectable since patriarch Sigmund was "just another psychiatrist, and one who writes pornography books at that." Thus begins the ill-fated relationship that would rock two families and a generation of children to come. Sophie weaves into the text letters she inherited, including letters from Martin while he was a prisoner of war, and excerpts from her own diary, kept as an adolescent. The resulting mosaic will fascinate--and perhaps disturb--readers interested in Freud and psychoanalysis, as well as those intrigued by relationships and family.
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