hausfrau is Jill Alexander Essbaum’s novel and its pretty amazing. I don’t know if I actually like any character in this novel, especially the protagonist Anna Benz. And I should feel some kinship with Anna since we’re close in age with young children. But there’s nothing familiar about this American living in Switzerland.
Anna married a Swiss man and moved to outside of Zurich about ten years ago and is just now taking classes to learn the local language. She has completely disconnected herself from her environment and the people around her. From her perspective, the Swiss people are cold and isolated, but Anna seems to do much of that to herself. As a reaction to her cold, distant husband, Anna has flings like someone else might have happy hours. She’s so desperate to feel something and uses sex, usually not with her husband, to fill her.
This could have been a trite story about a woman looking for love in all the wrong places, but Essbaum creates a woman on edge, a train wreck about to happen, that I couldn’t stop reading. All of her affairs and lies were bound to catch up to Anna, but how would it happen?
I was spellbound by how beautiful this heartbreaking story is told. The end seemed inevitable when I got there, but it was painful none the less.
Read September 2015