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A Curable Romantic

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  280 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
As far as romance goes, Dr. Jakob Sammelsohn is fairly incurable. Twice married, once divorced, once widowed all by the tender age of twelve he finally flees his small village and his pious, vengeful father. A lovelorn candide, young Dr. Sammelsohn wanders optimistically through history pursued by the amorous ghost of his dead wife.
Arriving in Vienna in 1890, a chance enc
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ebook, 608 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published August 10th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lady of the Lake
This was certainly something different!! I'm not sure however if I would have enjoyed it half as much had I read it as opposed to hearing it read fabiulously by Jeff Woodmen! He was the perfect choice for narrator! I'm very glad I picked this one up. My reading choices these days are all over the map! And I am thrilled by it.

There was so much going on in ACR...everything from forced childhood marriages...forced divorces.... A young Sigmund Freud.... (and all his colleagues of the time) ...Demon
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Kipahni
Well this was a kind of all over type of book- unlike any other book I have read. You can usually figure out a book half-way through or even just from the cover but this book was all over the place.
Will I ever read it again, no. Do I want to own it, no. Did I enjoy every minute of listening to it, YES!
The other thing I found interesting about this book was that the main character was a lot more passive- I mean he really was more like a secondary or peripheral character and everything else was k
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switterbug (Betsey)
Science, religion, and language intersect in this edgy, Judeo-mystic satire about love, brotherhood, and neuroses in fin-de-siècle Vienna. In 1895, oculist Jakob Sammelsohn meets Sigmund Freud on the same night that he eyes and falls in love with Freud's primary patient, Emma Eckstein. As Jakob is guided into Freud's world of psychoanalysis, he reluctantly becomes a guide himself. He plunges into the mythological realm of a dybbuk, the dislocated spirit of his dead wife, Ita, who possesses and i ...more
Mary
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fabulously inventive tale, richly written. Initially, I felt I was reading a fin de siecle author and was about to embark on a straightforward and very amusing coming of age set against interesting times. The self-effacing hero, his hopeless love for an unattainable woman, his constant social blunders enchanted. Then things took a twist. At first, I was put off, thinking Oh,no!Dybukks? Must you? And then the skill and charm of the narrative grabbed me back, reeled me in yet again for a differe ...more
Elizabeth
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It's a big, daunting novel, but it's got Judaism, psychology (Sigmund Freud), dybbuks, Reincarnation, life in turn of the century Vienna (and Russia), Esperanto (actually, way too much Esperanto, especially when it gets into the interminable debates about how to update the language), WW2 Nazis, and even somewhat heartless angels. The narrator is self-deprecating and insecure but he really develops (thank God for that). This is a sprawling epic that is touchingly human, romanti ...more
Brooke
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The short version: Love transcends death. But this book is so much more than that: the narrator works with Sigmund Freud and his most famous patient, is part of the Esperanto language movement, finds himself in a ghetto during WWII, and then travels to heaven and back--all while his soul mate appears as new characters in different segments of his life. Skibell's world(s) are fascinating. Parts of this novel got a little long, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Lisa
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It took me a very long time to finish this book, not because it dragged, but because it was so delicious that I wanted to savor every morsel. Part historical fiction, part Jewish fairy tale, part linguistic adventure, I recommend this to all who are looking for a special reading treat that lingers in your mind and heart.
Judith Podell
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LIke the White Hotel, only black comedy: Freud's a character and so is a woman who could be a composite of all of Freud's notable female patients -- but other ingredients include Esperanto, Jewish and the Return of the Repressed in the form of a female dybbuk. Would have preferred more dybbuk and less Esperanto, but that's just me.

Linda Vinson
While I was reading this book I had the thought that this was something of a forest Gump goes to Vienna. Young rather clueless man meets the luminaries of his day.

It's alright, but nothing all that special.
Darshan Elena
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love the premise, the historical characters, and the nuance of storycraft! While the ending seemed a little lackluster, the twists and turns for page 550 were fantastical and fantastic. I much adored this novel.
Marc Fitten
Nov 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a gripping and playful read ... but seriously playful. The language is also extremely crafted and original.
Rob Holland
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange apocalyptic picaresque about dybbuks, Esperanto, Dr. Freud, and the Holocaust . . . all held together by our dubious hero, Dr. Sammelsohn. Quite the adventure.
Jennifer
May 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ranging anywhere from late 19th century through the twentieth century, this novel certainly has a full time span. It includes great minds and movements of the times (Sigmund Freud, Esperanto, the Resistence movement) as characters or events of the plot. The narrative makes you feel as if you are living through the events of the time and surrounding yourself with all the influentials of the day. In terms of immersion through narration, this novel works.

The problem that kept me from loving this re
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J.A.
I was a fan of the tv show Frasier. Dr. Frasier Crane was a psychiatrist and the type of refined aesthete who would discuss his blend of bath salts on his radio show with the quip “Love does enter through the nose.” This naturally leads to his being lampooned by other radio hosts, but as it turns out he was not the first psychiatric proponent of such a theory.

Dr. Wilhelm Fliess, a German otolaryngologist, devised a theory of reflex nasal neuroses, which drew a direct link between the nose and th
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Scott Frank
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two things to note:

a) this sat on my shelf for a long time before I read it, because it's big (physically thick, that is) and I wasn't sure I could handle it.

b) it was way better than I expected.

Look, long novels have a few things about them: one is that they tend to start reeeeaallll slow. They may turn out to be incredible, but sometimes it takes so long to get going, I can, I admit, lose interest. For that reason, i sort of held off on this book for awhile. But it starts at a pretty solid cli
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Robert
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book mainly because I heard that Esperanto was part of the plot. In that sense, I wasn't disappointed, there is a good deal of Esperanto in the book (although I should point out that the Ido split didn't kill the language, it's still as active today).

A major problem I have with the book is that the narrator and main character is incredibly dull. He has absolutely no personality, characteristics, hobbies or friends. He doesn't really do or say anything. He spends most of the book help
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Nancy Kilgore
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another writer at a writing residency recommend this. Wow, this is truly an amazing book. Very clever and funny and extremely intelligent. The narrator is inserted into a story about Freud and some other famous intellectuals in early 20th century Vienna, L.L. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, intellectual life in Paris, and the Warsaw ghetto during the worst of World War II.

There is a wonderful and funny characterization of Freud as narcissistic and pompous, but also realistic-seeming as the
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Kay
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-fiction
This book really had a good premise, but was very disappointingly delivered. Dr. Sammelsohn falls in love immediately with a woman he sees in the theatre. He pursues her, only to find in psychotherapy sessions that the woman is possessed by the spirit of his dead wife. The idea of two people meeting throughout the ages in reincarnated bodies and different settings is a wonderful idea, but the idea just fizzles out after the first section of the book. Then it just turns to another love affair Dr. ...more
Peter
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in a leisurely, slightly old-fashioned style according well with the time period, the plot of A Curable Romantic meanders its way
through a surprisingly large amount of material.

Can you imagine what a novel, set mostly in the early part of the last century, incorporates re-incarnation, early psychoanalysis, The birth and death of Esperanto, at least seven languages, Freud himself, a couple of angels, God's antechamber, God's "major-domo" would read like? Whatever you may imagine, Skibell
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Cindy
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I quite like the authors idea of following love through the "re-incarnated" souls of two "soul mates". It was interesting setting the story in Vienna with Dr Freud. Who would have thought that Dr Freud was such a cocaine head and general chop ;) However, as I read further into the book, the author seems to be getting a tad carried away, and I must confess he lost me a bit. I suppose it is not easy to conclude a book with this story line anyway, but when the souls started traveling through the di ...more
Samantha York
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book last week and can't stop thinking about it. The whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking "this is more and more insane" - but the funny thing about it with a little distance is that it's a perfectly "typical" narrator - who is not particularly likable or unlikable - going through actual history of the 17th Century, from Vienna to Warsaw, and his typicality highlights the surrounding insanity.

Okay, there's also a crazy love story I don't want to spoil that's anything BUT
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Lynda
Aug 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An interesting but slightly annoying meditation on being a sexually repressed jew with daddy issues. The best part is the quirky portrayal of three famous men of the late 19th and early 20th century who become central to the protagonist's life. Clever story. Not particularly emotionally satisfying. The protagonist never matures in his sexual obsessions for women (who may or may not be the same woman reincarnated) or his relationship to great men with odd beliefs.Perhaps that's the point. He's a ...more
Pam
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an unusual novel! I was transported to Freud's Austria, the Esperanto movement in Paris, through the bosom of Abraham, and ended up in WW II Warsaw in this bittersweet tale of unrequited love. A lovable, but complicated protagonist and a complex and ever-changing love interest were both fictional, but embedded within the historical context of psychoanalysis, universal language, and world war. I learned so much about Freud and his contemporaries, Esperanto, Judaism, and Jewish folklore durin ...more
Michelle Sampson
I did not like this book. I can't give it one star, however, because there were some very interesting historical characters in it: Freud and Zamenhoff who created Esperanto (which I never even knew existed). I drifted in and out of like with the protagonist who meets these historical figures at the beginning of the 20th century. The writing was confusing and the story was bizarre and uneven. But the real question I am left with is this: why did I read over 500 pages of a book I really disliked? ...more
Kristyh
May 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Sometimes bizarre, sometimes fascinating and sometimes tedious until Book 3, I couldn't decide if I liked this novel or not. When Book 3 descended into absolute and utter rubbish I knew for sure that I didn't. I enjoyed the exploration of the rise of psychoanalysis and past life regression more than the study of the attempt to introduce Esperanto as an international language, but the visit to the Celestial plane was ridiculous.
Kathleen
Enjoyed this book and learned a lot! I had sought it out in order to continue some research on Esperanto and L.L. Zamenhof...in a fun way. I like to get some of my history through fiction and then track down the facts. I got it, and more! Learned about the dybbuk, plenty about Jewish mysticism, and lots about Freud, too. A fascinating story and central character. And very interesting supporting characters.
Jennifer
The earlier "A Blessing On The Moon" really made me want to read this new book. The last chapter made plugging through the entire book worthwhile, especially the final sentences: I was walking into a realer world, I told myself, a truer world. I was walking into history. I was heading toward Palestine, towards the Promised Land, and it was only there, I knew, that a man could live as a Jew, and a Jew could live in peace.
mark
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I was frequently skeptical about the historical details in this mash-up of early 20th century Vienna but I checked them out as frequently as I was skeptical and always found them with good basis in historical report. That included Wilhelm Fliess' numerological theories, political battles amongst early promoters of Esperanto, etc. Perhaps the episodes involving dybbuks are less factual, but who knows?
Sarah
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first part of this book was really interesting, a quick read, but the 2nd & 3rd parts just dragged. Sort of a personal epic, it followed the main character through the early days of psychoanalysis, the Esperanto movement and the Warsaw ghetto. In some ways, reminded me of Doctorow & his way of cramming as many significant people from an era into a novel as possible, but also dealt with the supernatural and religious.
Carmen
Set in Europe during the 1890's to 1940's, this book is a bit weird. It is basically the story of a man, but not really. It is the story of two encounters he had, several years apart. In the first one, he meets Dr. Sigmund Freud. He falls in love with a woman and discovers later that she is a patient of Dr. Freud's. Now with Dr. Freud in the picture, you know it is a story about the mind and psychoanalysis. It gets weirder. Definitely an orginal book.
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