Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dreaming for Freud A Novel by Sheila Kohler

Dreaming for Freud: A Novel.  Sheila Kohler. Viking: Penguin Group (USA). May 2014. 256 pp.  ISBN#: 9780143125198.

Sigmund Freud began his practice of psychoanalysis with few patients and none who stayed long enough for him to believe he had completed a cure for their psychological problems.  This is his story (because it is fiction) which the author has him writing as an account.  It will contain everything about the famous patient, Dora, whom he treated.  This was a patient who was rich, pampered, and defying her parents and anyone who encountered her.  The reader will immediately recognize that the relationship between Freud and her was more fraught with trouble from the start!

The entire account is questionable in one sense because of Freud’s expression before he begins writing, stating it will be his act of possession, his payback (paraphrased) or price to be paid for her leaving his treatment without permission and in clear violation of his therapeutic recommendation.  With such a statement, the reader might question how valid and reliable can be from a scientific point of view, but the reader becomes so quickly engaged in the account that one forgets the initial, questionable reflections so clearly indicative of powerful transference and counter-transference.

Dora when she begins treatment is 18 years old and Freud diagnoses her as an hysteric.  The interaction is fascinating, revealing as much about the early 1900s in Vienna.  Freud is a new therapist yearning for the approval of the psychology community of professionals and yet he is still building his theory through what he observes in his practice, especially with Dora.  At first she tries to manipulate him with lies and with her assertions that her father has ulterior motives for mandating this therapy, but gradually the reader discovers a hint of her true motives.  These stunningly vivid scenes keep the reading enthralled and one is able to enter the doctor’s mind and feelings as he carefully responds or is silent at the appropriate moments.

For believers of Freud’s psychoanalytic method of treatment, this novel will be enthralling; for others less familiar with the particularities of this type of psychoanalytic treatment, it will be a fascinating story and education in one phase of Freud’s life and work.  Nicely done, Ms. Kohler!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Promised to the Highlander (The Highland Chief Series: Book Two) by Kate Robbins.

Promised to the Highlander (The Highland Chief Series: Book Two).  Kate Robbins. Tirgearr Publishing.  May 2014. 243 pp., 2132 KB. ASIN No.: B00LNCO5TW.

Nessia Stephenson is furious for her father has promised her in marriage to William, the younger brother of the MacKay family. Neither of the promised ones want this and when they finally meet both realize it could be a good marriage, except for one disastrous reality.  For when William’s brother, Fergus, and Nessia set eyes on each other, there is a flash of overwhelming love in that first look.  Both decide to do all in their power to avoid following through on that initial recognition of true love!  Little do they realize, however, that very soon it is apparent to all but them.  Such is the stuff of great passion born to last forever!

Because of an unforeseen tragedy, the Sutherland clan residing near to the MacKay clan are determined to make the MacKay brothers and their women suffer to death.  A vow the Sutherlands make begins to be fulfilled.  None know that one member of each clan have fallen in love and have vowed not to involve themselves in this useless, bitter feud between the families.  The price to be paid will be higher than anyone involved can imagine!

The war degenerates to one group carrying the pennants of a different family, an act that could make the King so angry that he might issue a death penalty as a result.  Off to war the men go and the women stay behind, worrying and weeping, each with an untold story and secrets they can tell no one.

As torture, death and conflict grow, so does a secret passion, with some ultra-sexy scenes that add to the palatable tension increasing with each turned page. No spoilers here; Kate Robbins has surpassed her last novel by miles.  Great love coupled with great adventure and feisty female characters as well as brave men make Promised to the Highlander a terrific read!  Everyone loves a great story, and this romantic and historical novel succeeds on every level! Very nicely done, Kate Robbins.

Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

Wars of the Roses: Stormbird.  Conn Iggulden. Penguin Group (USA). July 2014. 496 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780399165368.

All agree – King Henry VI is not the man his acclaimed father was – the great Kings Henry V, victor at Agincourt!  He’s obsessed with prayer, believing his prayer can make the difference between war and peace between England and France in the late 1300s.  Two Court officials negotiate a truce promising the return of French territory to England in Maine and Anjou with the marriage of Margaret of Anjou.   The negotiations fare well but at first Margaret is married with William Duke of Suffolk standing in for the King on the wonderful wedding day! But promises are often full of unexpected debacles and the acts that follow begin a bloody war impossible to squash.  For the French move to recover their territories but do so with despicable destruction, rape and theft and the English landowners who have endured blood, sweat and tears to make a profit from these lands as farmers are not willing to sit back and be dispossessed without a fight!

Conn Iggulden possesses a tremendous talent in depicting multiple points of view.  Royalty to him is weak and spineless while Henry’s officials are a confused lot vying for profit while trying to save their own necks from the disaster their plotting has created!  At the same time, the reader experiences mixed thoughts and feelings as the rights of the English landowners seem viable and yet their own violent response goes beyond their justified refusal to surrender, a response that may eventually turn their own native countrymen against them when they travel to London, England.  How far may righteous principles go in action to earn back ownership of their land in France?  Iggulden also brings out the fact that no act of rebellion ever goes unpunished; it’s a steep, devastating price one eventually must pay when the line between patriotism and treachery disappears!

Margaret of Anjou turns out to be more than a pretty French face and is quick to protect the interests of her new husband, a determination that infuriate those who have controlled the wealth and power in England since the death of Henry V. 

Those like Derry, Suffolk, York, the Warwicks, etc. all vie for power but one wrong move winds up with the fall of many, since scapegoats must pay for the mistakes that yielded such inconceivable turmoil and death.  The people’s fury must be assuaged regardless of actual innocence of the perpetrators whose intention was peace and reconciliation. The ensuing blood shed actually reveals a cycle repeated over and over in so-called civilized England and France.

Conn Iggulden again has created a fascinating first novel in a series in which he illuminates an historical period rife with hard-fought peace and war!  Stunning debut of this latest series by this most notable author!! Highly recommended historical fiction!