Published by Random House Publishing Group on March 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Literary, Psychological
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her. But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.
Dear God. Hausfrau is one of those books that hits you where it hurts. Love (or something close to love), marriage, infidelity, family, mental illness…
This book was an all around winner for me. It’s not just deep and important with plenty of things for bookclubs everywhere to argue about, it’s also beautifully written. I have a background in German so the parallels that Essbaum made between the German language and Anna’s life decisions were endlessly fascinating and relatable to me.
Despite her affairs and questionable moral behavior I liked Anna and understood her compulsions and actions (or lack thereof). Depression is not something that can be ‘fixed’ with something as easy as finding a new hobby or making new friends, and perhaps I excuse her affairs because of her long term depression.
This book is gorgeously written and tackles a number of complex and heavy topics. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Other viewpoints from:
Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf
Andi at Estella’s Revenge
Shannon at River City Reading
Melinda at The Book Musings
What about you, Reader? Can you handle a book where you find some of the protagonist’s actions morally reprehensible? Do we judge men as harshly as women when it comes to marital infidelity? And don’t forget to drop into The Socratic Salon on Wednesday where we’ll really break it down.