They Said It Better: Hausfrau, by Jill Alexander Essbaum

April 08, 2015

Look at this pretty!
Hausfrau. You all know the book, that gorgeous, shiny blue business over on the right. It's the one that's been making waves in the blogosphere since the ARC was released in late 2014. It's the story of Anna Benz, a depressed, unfulfilled housewife in Zürich. She sees a Jungian psychoanalyst, takes German lessons, and has several steamy affairs, but these only serve to momentarily help her forget her emotionally vacant marriage and desperate yearning for a more purposeful existence. It's short, it's devastating, and there were moments I related to all too much:
"'All self-knowledge begins in the shadow's black rooms. Enter those rooms, Anna. Address the shadow face-to-face. Ask your questions. Listen to the answers. Respect the answers. The shadow will tell you everything. Why it is you hate. Who it is you love. How to heal. How to sit with sadness. How to grieve. How to live. How to die.'"
I thought this was a very solid book—I'd put myself squarely between Andi's resounding "meh" and Monika's breathless amazement. In lieu of more fleshed-out review from me, I'm going to share a few blog posts that summarize my thoughts and feelings about this book much more eloquently than I can.
Still itching for more thoughts on this one? Check out the extensive, spoiler-filled discussion over at The Socratic Salon!

Have you read Hausfrau? What did you think?

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  1. I haven't read it yet, although I wish I had, just for the fun of joining in at the Socratic Salon!

  2. I didn't love this one. I actually put it down at one point (I did eventually finish it). Anna just didn't generate any emotion in way or the other. And-I'll second Shannon's recommendation of The Affair. I watched last season and was addicted!! Season 2 is coming soon. I actually thought it was far better than Hausfrau :)

  3. Thanks for putting together all these links! I loved this, but I'm a sucker for great writing and I couldn't resist the ways it made me think. And need some steamy McNulty very soon. But be prepared to hate him a little.

  4. Of course—y'all had great ideas. :)

    And oh, I imagine I'd have some very conflicting feelings about these characters, based just on that trailer, but I think I could get over it and enjoy the eye candy. ;)

  5. Yes, I saw your review. I agree that not feeling anything for a character would be frustrating—I'm surprised you went back and made yourself finish!

    And oh boy, it sounds like I need to schedule a date with Showtime.

  6. Yes, I loved sharing my thoughts on it there! The site really fills a much-needed niche in the community. :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this round-up! I've loved seeing all the different angles people have used to discuss this book.

  8. Sounds very thought provoking. I need to pick this one up myself soon. I do love the quotes you've chosen even if I think I'd be a bit afraid of my answers to those same questions.

  9. I swoon just reading steamy McNulty. I so need showtime.

  10. Sorry for the late reply! I really enjoyed all the different points, too. It's a fairly straightforward story, but sooo much lurks beneath the surface that's worth chewing over.

  11. Oh, believe me, I am too. ;-)

    It was a quick read, if you find yourself with the time!