Hausfrau [Book Review]

Book Reviews


In exchange for an honest review, Random House of Canada sent me a copy of the gorgeous book, Hausfrau. After reading The Girl on the Train and Still Alice, I was hoping to get my hands on a warmer, sweeter, and less heart-wrenching novel. Fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t quite decide, Hausfrau did not give me anything less than a heart-wrenching experience. In fact, it left me broken.

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… 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.

Jill Alexander Essbaum is an incredibly gifted writer, weaving emotions, time, sex, love, and characters into one another seamlessly. Hausfrau is a haunting novel that is expertly paced. It commands the reader’s attention and allows them inside the emotional turmoil that Anna lives through each and every single day. Essbaum writes in such a way that you cannot help but feel everything all at once. You want to understand Anna, you want to help her, to fix her. Mostly you want her to end her affairs, you want to her wake up and get her to simply enjoy the life she leads. You want her to take control of her life before it is too late. You want her lies to disappear because eventually you actually feel sorry for Anna, you want her to redeem herself so much that you actually think she might. The trouble is that Hausfrau has no intent of wrapping Anna’s story in a pretty pink bow, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.

“…analysis isn’t pliers, and truth is not teeth: you can’t pull it out by force. A mouth stays closes as long as it wants to. Truth is told when it tells itself.”
Jill Alexander Essbaum, Hausfrau

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Hausfrau comes out March 17th, 2015!

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