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Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  

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A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.

A much talked about novel of female alienation, US poet Essbaum's is a curious blend of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina brought into the modern post-feminist age. Married to Bruno, a stolid Swiss banker, American middle-aged wife Anna Benz is stranded in middle class Switzerland, feeling trapped in her marriage, with three children towards whom she is highly ambivalent about, her German language skills imperfect, isolated in a spider web of trains running on time, mountain peaks, her own secrets and the depressingly clean Zurich suburbia. A curiously passive character she almost accidentally falls into an affair, then another, finding sex a momentary relief from her assigned role in society. Inevitably, between language classes, few close friends and psychotherapy sessions, her life begins to unwind. Even the eroticism of her liaisons, albeit reasonably explicit, has a bland Swiss monotony until tragedy strikes and engufls her. A book that could both fascinate and annoy you. Make your mind up. ~ Maxim Jakubowski


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. The Mantle imprint has long been a guarantee of the best in crime fiction, with its celebrated editor Maria Rejt having the sharpest eye in the business for provocative new talent. Her skills have not deserted her, as Jill Alexander Essbaum turns out to be a really intriguing writer. The narrative of Hausfrau involves Anne Benz, outwardly living a comfortable life in an upscale area of Zürich. However Anne, an American expat, is in a state of turmoil, alienated from her husband and his family and seeking escape in a variety of ill-advised sexual dalliances. Inevitably, her life begins to spiral out of control, and the results (as described by Essbaum) are grimly mesmerising. Apart from the storytelling grip exerted here, the author’s use of language is absolutely apposite; this is a strikingly well-written novel.
~ Barry Forshaw

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Synopsis

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Haunting and elegant, Hausfrau is the exceptional debut novel from the prize-winning American poet, Jill Alexander Essbaum. Anna was a good wife, mostly ...Anna Benz lives in comfort and affluence with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Anna, an American expat, has chosen this life far from home; but, despite its tranquility and order, inside she is falling apart. Feeling adrift and unable to connect with her husband or his family; with the fellow expatriates who try to befriend her; or even, increasingly, her own thoughts and emotions, Anna attempts to assert her agency in the only way that makes sense to her: by engaging in short-lived but intense sexual affairs. But adultery, too, has its own morality, and when Anna finds herself crossing a line, she will set off a terrible chain of events that ends in unspeakable tragedy. As her life crashes down around her, Anna must then discover where one must go when there is no going back ...

Reviews

'Haunting ... Beautifully written, the ennui of its Anna Karenina-esque heroine's deceptively perfect life as a Swiss housewife seeps from every page' Best books of 2015, Harper's Bazaar

'Hausfrau may be the Fifty Shades of literary fiction ... This debut brilliantly chronicles a woman's life falling apart ... The novel's mood is, like Anna's, dreamy and dissociated ... It is a brilliantly sustained examination of self-induced loneliness and pathological alienation.' The Times

'It's the book that will have everyone talking ...' Cosmopolitan

'This slow-burning literary novel of marital disintegration will leave you in bits. It's a bleak, but beautiful read, with echoes of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.' Glamour

'A racy mix of Gone Girl and 50 Shades. Grazia There are echoes in Hausfrau of those other frustrated wives, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina ... Torn between the identities of docile housewife and erotic adventuress, Anna is fragmented. Essbaum is an acclaimed poet and at moments her prose takes on a lyrical concentration. Scottish Archie speaks a queue of vowels rammed into one another like a smithy's bellows pressed hotly closed ... It's refreshing to discover a female protagonist who is allowed to be quite such a casual wife, such a detached mother, such an unromantic lover ... That, in the end, is the subversive thing about Anna: not her libido or her secret affairs, but her refusal to feel quite as copiously as women are expected to, her refusal to make herself likeable. She neither courts our approval nor dodges our judgement.' Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Jill Alexander Essbaum

Jill Alexander Essbaum is the author of several collections of poetry. Her work has twice appeared in The Best American Poetry, as well as its sister anthology, The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present. A winner of the Bakeless Poetry Prize and recipient of two NEA literature fellowships, Essbaum is a member of the core faculty of the Low Residency MFA at the University of California, Riverside, where she teaches poetry. She lives and writes in Austin, Texas. Hausfrau is her first novel.

Author photo © Megan Sembera Peters

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Book Info

Publication date

26th March 2015

Author

Jill Alexander Essbaum

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Publisher

Mantle an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Format

Hardback
336 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
Maxim Jakubowski's Selection
eBook Favourites
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9781447280798

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