Hausfrau

Hausfrau

A Novel

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
6
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * "Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman's desperate soul." -- People

Anna was a good wife, mostly.; For readers of The Girl on the Train and The Woman Upstairs comes a striking debut novel of marriage, fidelity, sex, and morality, featuring a fascinating heroine who struggles to live a life with meaning--"a modern-day Anna Karenina tale."*

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno--a banker--and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her.

But Anna can't easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it's difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum's debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.
 
Praise for Hausfrau

"Elegant, erotic . . . There is much to admire in Essbaum's intricately constructed, meticulously composed novel, including its virtuosic intercutting of past and present." -- Chicago Tribune

"For a first novelist, Essbaum is extraordinary because she is a poet. Her language is meticulous and resonant and daring." --NPR's Weekend Edition
 
"We're in literary territory as familiar as Anna's name, but Essbaum makes it fresh with sharp prose and psychological insight." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"A powerful, lyrical novel . . . Hausfrau boasts taut pacing and melodrama, but also a fully realized heroine as love-hateable as Emma Bovary and a poet's fascination with language." -- The Huffington Post

"[ Hausfrau ;feels more contemporary, subjective, and just plain funny than classical bourgeois ennui. Imagine Tom Perrotta's American nowheresvilles swapped out for a tidy Zürich suburb, sprinkled liberally with sharp riffs on Swiss-German grammar and European hypocrisy." -- New York

"Brain-surgically constructed to fascinate you, entertain you, and then make you question what a life lived with meaning looks like--all with a sense of poetic discipline and introspection." -- Los Angeles Magazine
 
"[ Hausfrau ] is masterly as it moves toward its own inescapable ending." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

" Madame Bovary meets Fifty Shades of Grey ." -- Sunday Express (U.K.)

* Glamour (U.K.)
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2015
ISBN: 9780812997538
0812997530
Characteristics: 324 pages

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j
june_hope
Feb 03, 2017

The book is best described by the famous Leo Tolstoy’s quote: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The story shows us Anna (not Tolstoy’s Anna) a perfectly unhappy housewife who’s never found her place in life. She is not perfect, with her negativity, lack of confidence, adultery and complaints, but she is human. At first, it appears, she should have a perfect life, with the loving husband, nice house in the suburb of Zurich, three kids, and enough money on her husband’s bank account to buy good quality stuff. However, with the progression of the book a reader starts to realize that it always takes two for a conflict. Kids that never were planned by both partners, jealous and cruel remarks towards deeply pregnant wife, the sink that should always be spotless, the mood swings, the dependency that was developed on the fertile soil of Anna’s personality. One can cry about all of these quietly in the middle of the night on the bench on top of the hill behind the house for some period of time, but one cannot lead such existence forever. Anna though that she could find happiness through other people after her first affair; she felt so special afterwards. Unfortunately for her, she never realized that happiness is something to look for inside oneself. The book ends very predictable, but with each page I wished that this time it was different.
Also, it is worth to mention the language that I enjoyed a lot. Each word is thoroughly though through and each word has its place. Ms. Essbaum did a very good job with her first novel.

s
Sublurbanite
Oct 19, 2015

Like the other comments, Anna is not the most likable character. But the author does an excellent job putting forth to the reader the pieces that form Anna's mindset. Sometimes I hated her. Often I was frustrated by her. Sometimes I sympathized with her. Through Anna the author shows us how even a simple life demonstrates complexities.

Despite that the book is intensely character driven, I found it fast-paced and couldn't put it down. Certainly not for everyone, but those interested in introspection will like this book.

b
brangwinn
Jun 21, 2015

An author who is able to keep me turning the pages when I dislike the main character is a good writer. It is clear the author is a poet, because she is able to make the daily almost drudgery of Anna’s life interesting. An American, living in Zurich Switzerland and married to a banker, Anna struggles with her duties as a good wife and her sexual escapades with men she meets. Going through counseling doesn’t seem to help, because Anna won’t share her deepest feelings. The ending was perfect in a story about a woman who couldn’t find satisfaction in her life.

lib_apart May 11, 2015

Anna Benz toys with adultery in an attempt to compensate for the sadness in her life, belying her suburban dream life in Zurich with her banker husband and three children. Anna's character owes no small debt to Bovarism, and the interspersed vignettes with her therapist start to feel tiresome after a while. However, Essbaum's writing is deft and the tale does move along well.

t
toby65
Apr 15, 2015

Anna is not the most sympathetic of characters.
And yet I found myself growing more and more attached to her and definitely wanting to know how it would all end.

Not exactly hard to put down,but gripping nevertheless.

Beautiful writing.
* * * *

multcolib_karene Apr 12, 2015

I wanted to like this book; it had a promising beginning and interesting writing but then it devolved into a moralistic tale that was all Anna Karenina-ish (and I hate that story!).

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