“Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family,” by Naomi Schmidt (Banner Archives – October 2007)

Most BOLLI members are aware that our own Sophie Freud is the granddaughter of the famous Viennese psychoanalyst. Until the recent publication of her memoir, however, we knew little of the details of her earlier life or of the interesting inter-relationships between members of the Freud family. The central character of Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family (published by Praeger) is neither Sophie nor her famous grandfather, but instead is his daughter-in-law Esti, Sophie’s mother.

The book is structured around passages from Esti’s autobiography and Sophie’s diary as a young girl, along with letters between individual family members, with the current Sophie looking back and commenting on their lives and their relationships. We learn how the two women left Vienna for Paris in 1938 when Sophie was 15 years old, and how a few years later escaped Paris on bicycles as the Nazis were about to enter the city. Their path took them through Nice, Casablanca, and Lisbon before they landed in the U.S. in 1942; and we can recognize in the young Sophie the person who will become the individual we now know, one who is unafraid to speak her mind or to walk briskly from Gosman to J Lot in the rain, while the rest of us wait for the shuttle bus.

A special treat is the inclusion of photographs of Sophie and other family members, which introduces us to the characters in ways that words alone cannot do. I found it difficult to put this book down, and I recommend it highly to those with an interest in life in Vienna before WW II, coping with and looking back on difficult family relationships, or the earlier years of a valued BOLLI member and SGL.

(Editor’s Note: New and used copies of “Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family” remain available for sale at Amazon and other sites.)

One response to ““Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family,” by Naomi Schmidt (Banner Archives – October 2007)”

  1. Joyce Lazarus says:

    I enjoyed your review very much, Naomi. I read Sophie’s memoir and found it spellbinding, especially the section on her escape from France when the Nazi army occupied the country.

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