Hausfrau [Book Review]

Book Reviews

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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!

“For some unknown but surely stupid reason, I felt sure things would be all right.”

Book Reviews, Just for Fun

My latest Random House Read is The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine (BARBARA VINE is a pseudonym for Ruth Rendell).

cover

Never in all my life have I been so torn by a character. Let me explain, The Child’s Child is a book within a book, a story within a story. The lives of a brother and sister who lived many years ago (John and Maud) mirroring the lives of a brother and sister of 2011 (Grace and Andrew). Maud, the most talked about character, really stumped me. Maud is a hypocrite and to an ugly extent. Because of this, I didn’t know whether to pity her or hate her – I certainly didn’t love her, as you can see from my goodreads updates below.

photoHowever I did enjoy meeting Grace, Andrew, Hope, and James. I despised Bertie from the moment he was introduced and I felt deeply sorry for John – a wonderfully romantic man who constantly strived to do the right thing. This novel is about betrayal and deception. It’s about having to lie to escape different kinds of persecution. It’s about the pain one must endure when they live a lie and the consequences they face when a lie turns out to do more harm than good.

I learned a lot from this novel and I am thankful that I have never endured the things that some of these characters went through. I am thankful that I read this novel. A fair warning to you all, it is slower than I expected for a mystery BUT it’s completely worth it. The pace of this novel kept the suspense alive, the descriptions were wonderfully haunting, and the characters really made me think. What more could you ask for in a book?

tumblr_lkg0cjxdG31qdo62to1_400

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
__
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-filled London home, Dinmont House. Rather than sell it, the adult siblings move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but ideal for the affectionate pair — until the day Andrew brings home a new boyfriend. A devilishly handsome novelist, James Derain resembles Cary Grant, but his strident comments about Grace’s doctoral thesis soon puncture the house’s idyllic atmosphere. When he and Andrew witness their friend’s murder outside a London nightclub, James begins to unravel, and what happens next will change the lives of everyone in the house.
 
Just as turmoil sets in at Dinmont House, Grace escapes into reading a manuscript — a long-lost novel from 1951 called The Child’s Child — never published, owing to its frank depictions of an unwed mother and a homosexual relationship. The book is the story of two siblings born a few years after World War One. This brother and sister, John and Maud, mirror the present-day Andrew and Grace: a homosexual brother and a sister carrying an illegitimate child. Acts of violence and sex will reverberate through their stories.
The Child’s Child is an ingenious novel-within-a-novel about family, betrayal, and disgrace. A master of psychological suspense, Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, takes us where violence and social taboos collide. She shows how society’s treatment of those it once considered undesirable has changed — and how sometimes it hasn’t.

"For some unknown but surely stupid reason, I felt sure things would be all right."

Book Reviews, Just for Fun

My latest Random House Read is The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine (BARBARA VINE is a pseudonym for Ruth Rendell).

cover

Never in all my life have I been so torn by a character. Let me explain, The Child’s Child is a book within a book, a story within a story. The lives of a brother and sister who lived many years ago (John and Maud) mirroring the lives of a brother and sister of 2011 (Grace and Andrew). Maud, the most talked about character, really stumped me. Maud is a hypocrite and to an ugly extent. Because of this, I didn’t know whether to pity her or hate her – I certainly didn’t love her, as you can see from my goodreads updates below.

photoHowever I did enjoy meeting Grace, Andrew, Hope, and James. I despised Bertie from the moment he was introduced and I felt deeply sorry for John – a wonderfully romantic man who constantly strived to do the right thing. This novel is about betrayal and deception. It’s about having to lie to escape different kinds of persecution. It’s about the pain one must endure when they live a lie and the consequences they face when a lie turns out to do more harm than good.

I learned a lot from this novel and I am thankful that I have never endured the things that some of these characters went through. I am thankful that I read this novel. A fair warning to you all, it is slower than I expected for a mystery BUT it’s completely worth it. The pace of this novel kept the suspense alive, the descriptions were wonderfully haunting, and the characters really made me think. What more could you ask for in a book?

tumblr_lkg0cjxdG31qdo62to1_400

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
__
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-filled London home, Dinmont House. Rather than sell it, the adult siblings move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but ideal for the affectionate pair — until the day Andrew brings home a new boyfriend. A devilishly handsome novelist, James Derain resembles Cary Grant, but his strident comments about Grace’s doctoral thesis soon puncture the house’s idyllic atmosphere. When he and Andrew witness their friend’s murder outside a London nightclub, James begins to unravel, and what happens next will change the lives of everyone in the house.
 
Just as turmoil sets in at Dinmont House, Grace escapes into reading a manuscript — a long-lost novel from 1951 called The Child’s Child — never published, owing to its frank depictions of an unwed mother and a homosexual relationship. The book is the story of two siblings born a few years after World War One. This brother and sister, John and Maud, mirror the present-day Andrew and Grace: a homosexual brother and a sister carrying an illegitimate child. Acts of violence and sex will reverberate through their stories.
The Child’s Child is an ingenious novel-within-a-novel about family, betrayal, and disgrace. A master of psychological suspense, Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, takes us where violence and social taboos collide. She shows how society’s treatment of those it once considered undesirable has changed — and how sometimes it hasn’t.

Burning my insides, my heart, and my pride…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

This rant has been burning my insides for the past few months and I think it’s time to get it off my chest. To some of my customers and anyone who has ever talked down to me:

** Just because I look like I’m seventeen does NOT mean that you can speak to me like I’m a stupid child. And by the way, not all young people are stupid and rude, the same way not all adults are smart and polite. **

Please keep that in mind before you look down your nose at me like I’m lying to you or trying to cheat you.

– Our slices are $7.40. No, I’m not trying to charge you more and pocket the money, so stop looking at me like that. NO I’m not the one who prices our slices so please stop getting mad at me if it seems too expensive.

– No Ma’am, we’ve never sold a vanilla latte here. We have a french vanilla or a plain latte, that’s it. No, I’m not just too lazy to make it for you so stop looking at me like that and stop telling me that another girl made you one last week.

I don’t pretend to know everything, not even at an establishment where I’ve worked for over six years. But I do know when I’m right about something. When I’m wrong, I keep my mouth shut. There are a lot of things that I don’t know and I love to learn new things. I am open to criticism, to questions, and to improving in any and every aspect of my life, but what I cannot handle is being talked to like I’m an idiot.

I’m twenty-three not seventeen and regardless of my age – if I greet you with a smile, I’d like the same in return. If I’m polite to you, I expect the same courtesy. If I’m wrong about something, cool, teach me what is right but treat me like a human being.

Rant over. Weight lifted. Heart empty.

Happy Sunday.

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo