Published by Random House Publishing Group on March 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Literary, Psychological
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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.