A great 4 stars from me
This book touched something that surprised me and I wept copious amounts of tears at the end for Anna.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 959 KB
Print Length: 338 pages
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Haunting and elegant, Hausfrau is the exceptional debut novel from the prize-winning American poet, Jill Alexander Essbaum.
Anna was a good wife, mostly . . .
Anna Benz lives in comfort and affluence with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Anna, an American expat, has chosen this life far from home; but, despite its tranquility and order, inside she is falling apart.
Feeling adrift and unable to connect with her husband or his family; with the fellow expatriates who try to befriend her; or even, increasingly, her own thoughts and emotions, Anna attempts to assert her agency in the only way that makes sense to her: by engaging in short-lived but intense sexual affairs.
But adultery, too, has its own morality, and when Anna finds herself crossing a line, she will set off a terrible chain of events that ends in unspeakable tragedy. As her life crashes down around her, Anna must then discover where one must go when there is no going back . . .
My thoughts on this book:
Anna marries a Swiss banker, and moves to Switzerland into a life that moves her along without will.
She has three children: two boys and a girl. She is a housewife trying to fulfil its cultural role without ever asking what she wants. Life, death and love is something she does not understand, and embarks on a self destroying journey of affairs to cope with her seemingly loveless marriage.
To be honest I nearly didn’t continue reading it as I found the beginning so depressingly grey. There didn’t appear to be any lightness in the reading as Anna’s life was numb and sad.
But, there is something about Anna’s story that drew me in, I had to know whether her life would change, and by what means. When Essbaum adds a friend with such a ‘normal’ life, you begin to understand Anna’s past and present.
The author writes with such authority on psychology and relationships played out in Anna’s sessions with her Psychologist cleverly executed, we never really know what truth Anna tells her.
Slowly throughout the book she is secretly spiralling out of control into an abyss which you fear she can not recover from.
I loved the characters because they felt so real. This is an emotional book on such deep levels, it is not a roller coaster, and has a complexity that will make you wonder how anyone can have so much insight.
Throughout the book there is an analogy to how the structure of the german language is with how Anna feels. Each stage in her lessons she increasingly identifies them with her emotions.
‘We make the passive voice in German with the verb werden. ‘To become.” So the bicycle becomes stolen, if you will. Or the woman became sad.
Or the body would become ravaged. And the heart will become broken. Somehow it made more sense this way to Anna. “
Essbaum has the ability to allow the reader to actually feel what she experiences. An example is when she bumps into a man and falls in love with him with a single look:
“In the short, sharp span of a single heartbeat, she knew that nothing she’d ever said or done, and nothing she would ever say or do again, would carry even half the tragedy of this.”
Best not to read this book if you are prone to depression because the emotions are very raw.
Did you cry with Anna as you wrote her, Jill Alexander Essbaum. I wonder?
Many thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.