Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Hausfrau - 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 . . ."

Weirdly compelling, and without a doubt unputdownable, but three days after finishing Hausfrau I'm still not sure whether I actually enjoyed it or not. I did, but at the same time I didn't. Anna is not a character that inspires any emotion other than pity and I really, really didn't like her, but at the same time I had to read to the end to find out what happened to her. 

I dont think there is a single character in the novel that I felt any empathy for, except perhaps Mary, but she was too good to be true and not someone that I would want to befriend in real life. Jill Alexander Essbaum has very cleverly created characters that show all their flaws, their selfishness and sometimes blatant disregard for others. The ending is both brutal and subtle, and left me openmouthed, and I am so glad I read to the end.

In short, not for the faint-hearted - there are some parts that are shocking, and you probably won't like a single character in the entire novel, but definitely, DEFINITELY read it. 

Hausfrau is out on 26th March and you can get it here:

*I was very kindly given an ARC by the publisher*

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