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"Essbaum sucked me into the story of Anna, an unhappy American woman living in Switzerland. A wife and mother without her own car, bank account or job, Anna's desperation (and readers can discuss to what extent that desperation is self-defined and self-prescribed) manifests itself in extramarital affairs and conversations with her Jungian psychoanalyst. Essbaum shifts back and forth between these conversations, trysts and Anna's daily experience and memory at a brilliant pace. We are constantly quilting an understanding of Anna by what she reveals of herself, both intentionally and unintentionally, in the doctor's office and in her own mind and life. She is a sympathetic, selfish, complex, infuriating, fascinating character who had me mulling female sexuality, self-determination and self-destruction. Book clubs should read this book alongside Anna Karenina. I wanted to talk about it as soon as I turned the last page."— Julie W.
April 2015 Indie Next List
“In this powerful, affecting novel, Essbaum has written an ode to desire and the destructive choices we make. There is a grace in Essbaum's writing that leads the reader to love Anna, to befriend her, and to be endlessly protective of her. Whatever it is that a poet does with words -- the arranging, the building of something that is more than the sum of its parts -- Essbaum, an accomplished poet, does with the emotions and the honesty in this work. It is brave, vulnerable, and filled with love, passion, and the kind of lust that one never speaks about. This is something special.”
— Kenny Coble, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
"NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, ""THE HUFFINGTON POST, "AND "SHELF AWARENESS""" In "Hausfrau, Anna Karenina" goes "Fifty Shades" with a side of "Madame Bovary." "Time"
A debut novel about Anna, a bored housewife who, like her Tolstoyan namesake, throws herself into a psychosexual journey of self-discovery and tragedy. "O: The Oprah Magazine"
Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman's desperate soul. "People"
Anna was a good wife, mostly.For readers of "The Girl on the Train" and "The Woman Upstairs" comes a striking debut novel of marriage, fidelity, sex, and morality, featuring a fascinating heroine who struggles to live a life with meaning.
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 Zurich. 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.
Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum's debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.
Praise for "Hausfrau
Elegant . . . There is much to admire in Essbaum's intricately constructed, meticulously composed novel, including its virtuosic intercutting of past and present. "Chicago Tribune"
For a first novelist, Essbaum is extraordinary because she is a poet. Her language is meticulous and resonant and daring. NPR's "Weekend Edition"
We re in literary territory as familiar as Anna's name, but Essbaum makes it fresh with sharp prose and psychological insight. "San Francisco Chronicle"
This marvelously quiet book is psychologically complex and deeply intimate. . . . One of the smartest novels in recent memory. "The Dallas Morning News"
Essbaum's poignant, shocking debut novel rivets. "Us Weekly
A powerful, lyrical novel . . . "Hausfrau" boasts taut pacing and melodrama, but also a fully realized heroine as love-hateable as Emma Bovary. "The Huffington Post"
Imagine Tom Perrotta's American nowheresvilles swapped out for a tidy Zurich suburb, sprinkled liberally with sharp riffs on Swiss-German grammar and European hypocrisy. "New York.
About the Author
Jill Alexander Essbaum is the author of several collections of poetry and her work has appeared in "The Best American Poetry, " as well as its sister anthology, "The Best American Erotic Poems, 1800-Present." She is the winner of the Bakeless Poetry Prize and recipient of two NEA literature fellowships. A member of the core faculty at the University of California, Riverside s Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, she lives and writes in Austin, Texas."