Review: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Anna Benz is an American living in Switzerland, who is playing the part of the perfect wife and mother to her Swiss husband and their three Swiss born children. She is living a comfortable life, free from responsibility to anyone or anything but her family. 

But if her life is so comfortable, then why does she have so much trouble connecting with her husband? Why is she slipping in and out of various extra-material affairs with such ease? And what happens when moral thresholds continue to be crossed?

From the moment I discovered that the protagonist was named Anna, and that trains and the Swiss rail networks were a huge part of the story, I instantly drew parallels with Anna Karenina. More than that, I had a sense that this story was not going to end well. What I didn't count on was the lows that Anna, her supposedly goody-goody friend Mary, and Anna's husband Bruno would stoop to before the novel's tragic end. However, what shocked me most was not what Anna did but her level of passivity surrounding her life and experiences. 

Although Hausfrau was an intriguing and well written novel, I cannot say that I enjoyed it on a personal level. The ending seemed too cruel, the characters, all of them, too selfish, the ultimate message, too obvious.

Not recommended.


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