Review: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Review: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

It’s rare that I finish a book and don’t know what to say about it. Actually, it almost never happens. But I finished Hausfrau Friday night around 1 a.m. and was glad to just put the book down and sleep on it. (After going and reading everyone’s thoughts about it on The Socratic Salon, even though I missed the discussion while it was happening!)

Hausfrau was so gorgeously written (by a poet, which shows through every line of the book), and follows Anna Benz, the star of the show and the Hausfrau (housewife) in question. She moved to Switzerland nine years ago to be with her husband, his mother, and his job. You’ll notice the pattern of “his” in that last sentence. Anna has almost nothing of her own. She doesn’t even have a bank account, as she points out several times. Sure, she loves Bruno (a version of love) and her children, but nothing is truly hers. She is trapped, in every sense of the word, and has never once felt at home in her new country.

“Truth is told when it tells itself.”

So, Anna finds something of her own. An affair. And then another one. She spins a complicated web, walking on thin ice for the majority of the book, and I actually felt nervous reading it, waiting for everything to fall down around her. It’s a tense book, it’s a sad book, and it’s an amazing book that everyone is talking about, and for good reason. I already imagine this on tons of end of the year “best” lists, and we’re only in May.

I really loved this book, and I wish I hadn’t seen a million comparisons before/during reading it. I would have loved it more without being told it’s the next Gone Girl, Anna Karenina, 50 Shades. It makes me think things are going to happen or be a certain way and also IT CAN STAND ON ITS OWN. It’s so good that it doesn’t need a comparison to sell, in my opinion. Plus, it’s nothing like any of those books? (Though I haven’t read/seen 50 Shades, I know enough to know it’s just not) So, there’s that.

The writing is beautiful, the cover is great, and there’s a great discussion about it (including J.A.E.!) on Literary Disco, that you should definitely check out if you loved this book, too!

Have you read Hausfrau? Do you see the comparisons to all those other books? Tell me your thoughts!

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7 comments

  1. I also was very annoyed by all the comparisons. I could (maybe) get on board with marketers saying something like “the next book for FANS of Gone Girl” versus “the next Gone Girl”… you know what I mean? Glad you enjoyed it! The ending literally gave me head to toe shivers!

    1. ME TOO! I think because I so did not see it coming , even with the Anna K comparisons but ahhh so, so good, this book!

  2. I didn’t appreciate the comparisons to other books either. In fact, had I listened to them I probably wouldn’t have read Hausfrau. Yes, there is some pretty graphic sex in it, but that does not make it 50 Shades of Gray. For one thing Hausfrau is wonderfully written. Not every book has to be like another successful book to make it a worthwhile read.

  3. I actually managed to read this without seeing many comparisons and definitely no comparisons to anything I’d read, which I prefer. It’s nice to go in without expectations that will almost certainly not be met perfectly. I agree that the writing was really beautiful, but the plot of this one bored me and I think I may have enjoyed it less than most. I did love the discussion over at the socratic salon though and would definitely suggest this for my book club after seeing the great conversations it started.