Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander EssbaumHausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Published by Random House Publishing Group on March 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Literary, Psychological
Pages: 352
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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.

I’m waking up out of a post-book stupor in an attempt to write out some coherent thoughts about Hausfrau.

It’s been a long time since a book has shattered me like this. God, I felt for Anna. Yes, she makes unscrupulous choices. Over and over again. But to me, these exploits aren’t the point of the novel at all, but an outward sign of Anna’s deeply-rooted depression. Hausfrau is an unnerving portrait of clinical depression, a depression that began early in Anna’s life and was all too often dismissed or ignored, for one reason or another.

This novel is so beautifully crafted from beginning to end. It hops around in time, executed in a flawless and compelling way. I was completely caught up in the story, walking around the house with my Nook, reading at every spare moment.

Not quite three-fourths of the way through, a critical point changes everything. I had no clue what was going to happen from there on out. I feel like I held my breath to the very last sentence! It was intensely emotional reading experience (cue ugly cry), one that was difficult to process immediately after finishing the book.

When I finished the novel last night, I felt sad and sick to my stomach. This morning I feel downright angry. It’s hard to remember these characters are fictional; I’m reminded to give the people around me more than a cursory listen. And that is probably Hausfrau‘s greatest gift.

  • I’ve been dying to read this book… and this review made me even more excited!

  • Such a great review…and I’m so glad you had such a whirlwind experience with this book. The writing is so incredible, I felt like I wanted to highlight everything!

  • I JUST ordered this book so I only let my eyes skip around your review. Angry! Sick to stomach! Beautifully crafted! I’m so scared to see more until I get my hands on it!

  • And LOVE the header!!

  • I was able to score it at the library yesterday and am about halfway through it. IN LOVE!

  • I’m am dying to get through my other books and get to this one (like I’m going to get through my other books while online. HA!) I’m going to the bookstore today and plan to read this one next week…plan being the operative word. NOW, however, I’m even more eager to get to it.

  • Great review, Monika! I loved the novel too.

  • I was really enjoying this novel, for all the reasons you write about — right up until the end. It just felt too obvious, and that kind of ruined it for me.

    • I had a number of possibilities in mind for the end, including what actually happened, but was somewhat still surprised.

  • I’m in the throes of A Little Life and I feel like I’ve been gut punched. I have Hausfrau on my TBR but it may take a while for me to get to it ….

    • Yeah, I can’t imagine reading those two back to back (which I think Catherine/Gilmore Guide did!)

      • Wow, that’s intense. What did you read after Hausfrau, out of curiosity? 🙂

        • I read a couple of the little essays in A Flute in My Refrigerator (a memoir/essay type book by a flute teacher) and then picked up Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which turned out to be a feel-good book. 🙂

          • I figured you’d want something light and breezy! Now I need to grab a feel good book 😉

          • Kelly TheWellReadRedhead

            Wonder made me cry happy tears! 🙂

  • Moving this one up in my TBR stack! Thanks for a motivating review.

  • Kelly TheWellReadRedhead

    I just wrote my review for this and came over to read yours…it sounds awfully similar! Haha. I was emotionally destroyed by this book. It was just so good.

  • My hold on this one at the library just came through! I’m going to pick it up tomorrow.

  • I really loved the time hopping as well. There were a few cases where I thought it was confusing, but generally I thought it was executed nicely and I always thought it added to the story. It made it a much more thoughtful read for me. I was also very surprised by the event towards the end! I wasn’t, however, very emotionally affected by this book. Anna was so apathetic, I started feeling bored and apathetic myself towards the middle of the book.