“A lonely woman is a dangerous woman. A lonely woman is a bored woman. Bored women act on impulse.”
In Jill Alexander Essbaum’s novel, HAUSFRAU, Anna Benz is an American woman living in Zürich with her Swiss banker husband, Bruno, three children and mother-in-law, Ursula. She is living what she calls a “tiny” life in the “tiny” town of Dietlikon. From the outside her life looks perfect, but she’s miserable and doesn’t fit in with any of the other mothers, so she spends her time wandering the city on foot and by train. Eventually her husband tells her to go “fix” herself, as if she were a Swiss clock. For Anna, that means German-language classes and Jungian Psychoanalysis.
She ends up having an affair with a man from Boston, followed by many more sexually intense affairs. She finds its very easy to work her numerous encounters around her daily language classes and rarely disrupts the schedule of her mother-in-law’s babysitting her children.
“Some women collected spoons. Anna collected lovers.”
The character of Anna was difficult for me to get a full understanding of, but so intriguing that I wouldn’t give up. It would have be easy to dismiss her as a hopeless, over-indulged woman, but I believe she’s clinically depressed and not getting the help she needs. Her analysis sessions leave her with more questions than answers.
Anna is a complicated character and HAUSFRAU is a compelling novel that’s why I recommend everyone read it. This is Jill Alexander Essbaum’s first novel. She’s a poet first and her prose are as clear and as pristine as the Swiss winter air. I look forward to her next novel.
Thanks to Netgalley http://www.netgalley.com and Random House for providing a kindle copy for an honest review.
Check out www. http://www.jillalexanderessbaum.com for all things JILL.