Author: Jill Alexander Essbaum
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Source: review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Summary from Goodreads:
Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband Bruno 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 into with an ease that surprises even her. 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’s no going back.
I read Hausfrau and now I AM BROKEN INSIDE.
Honestly, I was a bit unsure of this book during the first half. Hausfrau is getting a ton of buzz right now, and as I jumped into the text, I had to spend some time unraveling Anna's inner turmoil. At first, I found myself getting rather annoyed with her--what business does she have, cheating on her husband at every turn? Ignoring her kids in favor of another tryst? I even was (dare I say it?) bored for a chapter or two as things played out. (And, I should note (for those who'd like the content warning), they do play out quite graphically. It got a little 50 Shades of Grey up in there for a while.) But as the details came together, I began to realize that Anna isn't a stereotypical desperate housewife. Anna is really and truly depressed. And this book captures her downward spiral in the most heartbreakingly stunning way.
I think that's the best thing to know going into this book: there is no catch here. There's no mystery behind Anna's background that's going to explain her actions to you (I kept waiting for some big reveal about her past that didn't happen). This book is a character study in depression, plain and simple. And depression doesn't usually have one root cause that can be so quickly explained.
Even though there is no big revelation about Anna along the way, there is a rather significant plot change that occurs in the second half, and this is where my heart basically imploded and I could.not.stop.reading until the very end. Oh, the sadness, my friends. I felt so deeply for Anna by the end of this novel. I don't get real attached to characters in novels most of the time, but I felt emotionally entrenched in her story for sure.
And the ending. This book could make my favorites list for the year simply because of how well Essbaum wrote the last page. I won't spoil it for you but just...amazingly poignant.
Do you like character-driven novels? Do you like to feel all the feels (and I don't even like that phrase), especially the depressingly sad ones? Then Hausfrau will be the most well-written novel to make you cry in 2015. HANDS DOWN.
What's the last book that really and truly tugged at your heartstrings? Made you cry?