Wednesday 8 April 2015

Review ~ Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

An imprint of Pan Macmillan
March 2015
Anna Benz is an American in her late thirties. She lives a comfortable life with her Swiss husband and three children in a suburb of Zurich. On the surface, Anna has everything she needs, but her life is filled with dissatisfaction, not just with her husband, with whom she is cold and distant, but also from her children, who seem to be nothing more than an irritation to her. Throughout the novel, she demonstrates a level of contempt for her family which is, quite often, difficult to explain. Adrift and disconnected from the people around her, Anna embarks on a series of short-lived intense sexual encounters, which are, in the main, unsatisfactory and which leave Anna feeling bereft of all support. As the story progresses, tensions start to escalate and in light of a devastating tragedy, Anna needs to re-evaluate everything about her life.

Strongly written with explicit sexual references, this is not a book for the faint hearted. It many ways, though, it becomes a compelling read, almost voyeuristic in its approach, and strangely alluring, as the need know how Anna’s story would be played out, becomes the driving force of the novel. I'm not sure that this book is easily likeable. I found Anna to be completely distasteful, not just in the way she behaves to family, but also in the way she has lost total respect for herself and considers her own self worth beyond redemption.

Sparsely written, with great precision, and heavily inspired by the author’s own experiences as a housewife living in Zurich, this intense debut novel reveals a story of marital discord on a grand scale.  

My thanks to Sam Eades and Pan Macmillan for my copy of this novel.


1 comment:

  1. I'm currently about 3/4 of the way through this. It's so oddly compelling - brilliantly written too!


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