Freud's Sister by Goce Smilevski
A Novel

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 7 Critic Reviews



The award-winning international sensation that poses the question: Was Sigmund Freud responsible for the death of his sister in a Nazi concentration camp?

The boy in her memories who strokes her with the apple, who whispers to her the fairy tale, who gives her the knife, is her brother Sigmund.

Vienna, 1938: With the Nazis closing in, Sigmund Freud is granted an exit visa and allowed to list the names of people to take with him. He lists his doctor and maids, his dog, and his wife's sister, but not any of his own sisters. The four Freud sisters are shuttled to the Terezín concentration camp, while their brother lives out his last days in London.

Based on a true story, this searing novel gives haunting voice to Freud's sister Adolfina—“the sweetest and best of my sisters”—a gifted, sensitive woman who was spurned by her mother and never married. A witness to her brother's genius and to the cultural and artistic splendor of Vienna in the early twentieth century, she aspired to a life few women of her time could attain.

From Adolfina's closeness with her brother in childhood, to her love for a fellow student, to her time with Gustav Klimt's sister in a Vienna psychiatric hospital, to her dream of one day living in Venice and having a family, Freud's Sister imagines with astonishing insight and deep feeling the life of a woman lost to the shadows of history.


About Goce Smilevski

See more books from this Author
GOCE SMILEVSKI was born in 1975 in Skopje, Macedonia. He works at the Institute for Literature at Methodius University in Skopje, where he lives. CHRISTINA E. KRAMER is a professor of Slavic and Balkan languages and linguistics at the University of Toronto. She lives in Ontario, Canada.
Published August 28, 2012 by Penguin Books. 272 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Freud's Sister

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Her brother, around whom the family revolves, is a genius whose star soars while Adolfina suffers years of neglect (she is, after all, merely a woman), an ill-fated love affair, confinement in a psychiatric clinic, where silence is a prized commodity for Adolfina and her friend Klara, and the res...

Aug 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Freud's Sister: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Smilevski beautifully juxtaposes Freud's scientific studies of mental illness with Adolfina's own beliefs regarding the beauty of madness (speaking of the mental institution in which she was confined for a time, Adolfina muses that "The human fates at the Nest wove wondrous, often invisible nets"...

Jul 30 2012 | Read Full Review of Freud's Sister: A Novel

The Wall Street Journal

See more reviews from this publication

Freud's treatment was by all accounts a dramatic failure: Ida was adversarial and unresponsive, and Freud grasped at increasingly bizarre interpretations of the female psyche.

Oct 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Freud's Sister: A Novel

The Wall Street Journal

See more reviews from this publication

Two novels turn an analytic eye to Sigmund Freud himself. Sam Sacks reviews Goce Smilevski's "Freud's Sister," Lidia Yuknavitch's "Dora: A Headcase" and Scott Hutchins's "A Working Theory of Love."

Oct 19 2012 | Read Full Review of Freud's Sister: A Novel

The New York Review of Books

—Freud’s Sister Like the fine mist of poison gas that hisses into the Nazi death chamber at Terezín at the terrifying conclusion of Freud’s Sister, obliterating the carefully preserved memories that comprise the novel, an air of paralyzing melancholia pervades virtually each page of this meditati...

Dec 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Freud's Sister: A Novel

Bookshelf Bombshells

Granted, Sigmund Freud died prior to his sisters and never knew their eventual fates, but I was surprised that biographers did not mention any possible psychological effect of having to leave four siblings, including the sister he described as “the sweetest,” behind.

Sep 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Freud's Sister: A Novel

TCPalm / AP

It begins with a scene in which she begs Freud, who was getting ready to escape Nazi-occupied Vienna and go into exile in London, to get her and the other sisters out of Austria, too, but her desperate plea falls on deaf ears.

Nov 04 2012 | Read Full Review of Freud's Sister: A Novel

Reader Rating for Freud's Sister

An aggregated and normalized score based on 26 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review