Review: Jill Alexander Essbaum – Hausfrau

51hG0W8UXdL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I was in two minds whether to review this book. It’s not a crime novel although it does have elements of a psychological or domestic thriller. What made up my mind was how strongly I want to recommend the book. It’s a very powerful and dark read and had a profound effect on me after I’d finished it.

Anna Benz is an American who now lives with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a suburb of Zurich. Although perhaps not as wealthy as some of the other inhabitants, Anna has what might be considered to be a perfect expat lifestyle. Except in the nine years that she has lived in Switzerland she hasn’t learnt German and feels isolated from the rest of the community. At her therapist’s suggestion she enrolls in a language class and embarks on an affair with Archie, one of her fellow students. As the story develops, we uncover Anna’s past indiscretions and how risks taken in the past and present can devastate a family.

Hausfrau is a powerful read. I found myself unable to put it down but was helped by the choppy narrative structure. This allows the reader some breathing space in what could be quite a grim read. The character of Anna is one of the reasons that the book is so powerful. She’s both passive in the infidelities that she follows and yet clearly has a strong self-contained personality. There’s a significant sexual element to the story. But this is no confessions of a bored housewife. There’s a sense of impending doom that makes for a compulsive read.

The book was recommended to me by a publicist who knows I review crime books. And I can see why. There are some complex characters and the story is a dark, harrowing tale.  I’d highly recommend it to all readers.

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12 thoughts on “Review: Jill Alexander Essbaum – Hausfrau

  1. Most certainly not a domestic noir, although it has dark elements, but a psychological study of isolation and breakdown. Glad to hear you liked it – it really divided opinion among my fellow bloggers.

  2. I’ve been hearing some really, really good things about this one, Sarah. And of course, very glad that you enjoyed it as well as you did. It’s certainly got a very engaging and intriguing sort of context, too.

  3. You don’t make Anna sound particularly appealing (hope that was intentional on your part …) but it’s impressive to me if a book pulls you on despite that. Thanks Sarah.

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