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I have a dirty little confession I am drawn to flawed and unlikeable protagonists, especially women They absolutely fascinate me.Anna Benz is one of those women From the deceptively simple and innocuous book title and cover comes a complicated tale of a deeply unhappy woman who is a curious mix of apathy and passion, passivity and impulsiveness, self destructiveness and self preservation She alternates between startling insightful observations about herself and her situation and an incredible denseness To some degree, we are all a mass of contradictions but Anna takes it to extremes Anna has been unhappy and feeling unsettled in her own skin since she was a child, but we have no idea why She marries and comes to live in Switzerland, which she alternately loathes and admires She feels isolated and throws herself into a series of affairs in a desperate attempt to feel something, anything but her pathology is so acute, she is constantly disappointed and adrift And so it goes, her life circling the drain slowly lazily at first, then swirling quicker and quicker, moving towards what you fear may be an inevitable conclusion.Anna s story is enhanced by the details of her sessions with her Swiss therapist and her German language lessons This clever device serves to emphasize Anna s growing isolation, the rigid structure and unforgiving cages that she finds herself in Very clever in fact, this is one of the smartest books I have read in a long time The writer is a poet and that sensibility is very apparent in her writing.This book also has the best first and last lines of any book in recent memory The last line an arrow to the heart Unforgettable.A 4.5 for me. Sex Adulterous sex Adulterous sex in Europe Adulterous sex in Europe by an unlikable expat, playing the role of mother and wife at home.Doesn t it sound grand I mean, maybe not grand, but interesting, at least I confess I have a fascination with books that deal with relationships and monogamy and all the complexities therein That s why I read John Updike, who had what one might call an unhealthy obsession with adultery, its trappings and its failings That s why I picked up this book, too So Hausfrau did not offend my sensibilities when the main character Anna ventured outside her marriage over and over With a stranger who she didn t care for With a man she fell in love with on first sight With a friend of her husband s It s not her behaviour that put me off this book I m a big girl, I can handle a decent amount of smut without getting all Victorian Plus, I love to love unlikable characters No, it was something else.This is Essbaum s debut, and there s no doubt that she can write There were a few lines worth underlining, as well crafted as a stanza in a short poem that can afford no dithering around But.There s such a lifeless quality to this book Not even lofty comparisons with heavyweights Anna Karenin or Madame Bovary can resuscitate this cement block It s the literary equivalent of a limp dick I don t know how, but Essbaum managed to drown an intriguing subject, holding it under water until it became slack, bloodless, a chore to read The reader is suffocated with Anna s constant self analysis We never get a break from it She s either fucking someone else, or thinking about fucking someone else, or feeling VERY sorry for herself that she s fucking someone else, lamenting it but doing it anyways And in between these naval gazing scenes, we re peppered with obnoxiously pithy vignettes with her therapist, Dr Messerli, who says ridiculous, deep things likeIt doesn t matter whether you believe in ghosts The ghosts believe in you Grief that finds no relief in tears makes other organs weep HUH Then, we get to hear Anna feel nauseatingly sorry for herself, in sentences like these She was lonely and remote Anna was lonely and remote everywhere she went.Love s a sentence, Anna thought A death sentence.No one talks like this No one waxes this poetical with their shrink, or constantly discusses the idea of love as a metaphor for fire with their lover It s all an artifice I m pretty sure even the flowers on the cover of the book are fake Lovely silk flowers that smell like nothing.Over and over the author bashes us on the head POOR, POOR ANNA Poor Anna Except I didn t feel sorry or even interested in her I didn t get her, like I did Rabbit Angstrom, a philandering pig Updike created who is human and real Anna, by contrast, is a construct She is a creation on which to pile beautiful sentences and a few hot sex scenes I felt the author s hand everywhere I went I was never involved in the story I was simply a witness to a show off Look at this line And that Isn t this meaningful The depressive narrative goes nowhere until 3 4 in, when it becomes even MORE depressing and instead of caring, I just started counting the pages til I could write this review and move along with my life And now, I think I will Next @Download Pdf ⛅ Hausfrau ⚶ Best Books, Hausfrau Author Jill Alexander Essbaum This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book Hausfrau, Essay By Jill Alexander Essbaum Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You It s thrilling, isn t it Yes, Anna thought Adultery s a blast.It wasn t until page 292 of this 320 page book that I realized that this was view spoiler a retelling of Anna Karenina hide spoiler I enjoyed this a lot On the surface it appears to be a simple tale of a bored housewife seeking the excitement and attentions of extramarital affairs and eventually reaping the consequences But there is much here that engaged my mind and emotions Her sexual escapades are thrilling and incredibly erotic But as the character deconstructs in looking for love in all the wrong places, we struggle mightily to construct her, and we are never sure whether we want to hug her or shake her Anna Benz is a 37 year old American housewife living outside Zurich with her Swiss banker husband Bruno and three children Bruno recognizes her unhappiness and encourages her to seek help with an therapist Her therapist recognizes her cultural disconnection and encourages her to take a German language class The juxtaposition of Anna s ambivalent reveries with the structured lessons from these sources is wonderfully done This art no doubt derives from the author s skills as a poet, giving us crisp, concise prose of Anna s concrete experiences alternating with the contrast of abstract windows on the forms of the science of psyche and language.Anna comes to analysis pretty conflicted in her self esteem In the first line of the book, we get the pregnant line Anna was a good wife, mostly Later, we get her reflection, Anna and Bruno were, or less, in love Her therapist talks about analysis as a hard, painful process, analogous to rebreaking old fractures that have healed improperly Anna renders up dreams for interpretation, but otherwise she is resistant to the process and keeps her deepest worries and facts of her affairs secret She brings some of her questions to the table, but expertly deflects answers she doesn t likeWhat s the difference between love and lust You tell me, Doktor Messerli said to Anna Lust s incurable Love isn t Desire isn t a disease, Anna Isn t it The paradox of Anna s passivity is a paramount subject that readers like me will be challenged to wrap one s head around Anna raises the subject, and gets this assessmentPassivity isn t a malady It s the symptom Complicity is but one of your many well honed skills When it pleases you, you are quite practiced at defiance Were did this come from What might have caused this Anna said that she was afraid she didn t know That s exactly right You are afraid The Doktor said, and then she said no.The doctor starts to get closer to key topics through Jungian concepts of the role of the unconscious in personal development, but only gets so farThe psychosexual union is a symbol of coming to consciousness Anna offered her a quizzical look What s this got to do with me We get a similar window on the defensive strengths of Anna s mind at play during her language class, where she is so creative in translating messages from one form to ones that sustain her mode of beingThere are two basic groups of German verbs, Roland said, strong and weak Weak verbs are regular verbs that follow regular rules Strong verbs are irregular They don t follow patterns You deal with strong verbs on their own terms Like people, Anna thought The strong ones stand out The weak ones are all the same.Her antipathy toward rules is apparently quite broad, including the constraints of time itselfThis is basic, class Present tense That which happens now Future tense What will occur Simple past what was done Present perfect What has been done But how often is the past simple Is the present ever perfect Anna stopped listening These were rules she didn t trust.What a cipher Anna is Nothing of her past before marriage, her family or place of origin, rises to consciousness She has no ambitions for a career, no hobbies, no real friends, no one she can really talk with A fellow student in the German class who also struggles with cultural alienation in the staid and orderly Swiss society tries but fails to forge a sustaining friendship with Anna An aristocratic woman confesses to having affairs, but Anna resists sharing in return Anna truly only feels alive in her affairs and her mastery of their secrecy She is frozen in her ambivalency Anna loved and didn t love sex Anna needed and didn t need it Her relationship with sex was a convoluted partnership that rose from both her passivity and an unassailable desire to be distracted And wanted She wanted to be wanted.Her dangerous path all started years back with her affair with a visiting American scientist, Stephen She truly loved him and was devastated when he broke it off to return home She dwells on many analogies brought up by his subject of study, the science of fire the consuming yet purifying aspects of surrender to the flame Her sense of loss is huge I began to admire her a bit for some bravery in toughing it out and empathize with her approach to nurtured memories How different it all would have been had I just gone home Other days, it was such an ache that tethered her to joy It was despair alone she owned outright An indefensible comfort nonetheless The only thing she rarely felt was guilt Love trumped guilt like rock won out over scissors.But how many readers can be sympathetic with her steps that bring her to the current mess I m cheating on the man I m cheating on my husband with, Anna thought I grow less decent every passing day.She has significant insight She sees how trying to lead multiple lives leads to these lives leading her Yet she still is incapable of productive action and instead digs into her foxhole The sex begat clarity I may not be as passive as I think I am The bus is mine, Goddamit, I ll drive it And so the worse she became, the better she became She was still sad She was still skittish She was still herself, and in full danger of being trapped beneath the rubble of her poor choices when her makeshift shelter caved in But from this terrible awareness Anna drew strength The challenges of love and marriage and the drift into adultery is one of the most common topics in literature and in our personal lives What new can be said without becoming either banal or a soap opera In this debut novel we are lucky to get a talented writer who subsumes these issues into the context of personal and cultural alienation laid out like stanzas of poetry Anna s passage beyond the reach of so many avenues of help is tragic Both she and we can see the inevitable reckoning, and the form it takes is tragic My major caveat is that so much interpretation about Anna s situation and progression is spelled out Still, we are left to judge for ourselves if her fate comes about because she does not have a sufficient moral compass such as faith in God as acknowledged by her husband or because she lacks a belief in free will as espoused by a kind priest she encounters I liked this much better than a recent read of a somewhat similar novel of a disintegrating marriage, Richard Yates Revolutionary Road Interestingly, in an interview for Electric Literature by Heather Scott Partington , Essbaum imagines Kate Winslet as the ideal to play Anna if a movie is ever made of her book, the actress who played the lead for the movie based on the Yates book I think it might make a pretty compelling movie This book was provided by the publisher through the Netgalley program Photo of author by Megan Sembera Peters posted on Electric Lit Oh dear lord, it s time to review Hausfrau Hmmm Well Okay, I m off I always appreciate good writing, and it was superb here Also, I love being inside a characters head, and thoughts, also, great here Just a few problems While the main character, Anna, has moved away from the states to Switzerland to get married I don t hear too much about love, although maybe a little in her flashbacks to the beginning After that I felt all the interruptions and talk of Switzerland, a bit clunky They felt dropped into the story to show how much she hated life here, to explain of why she is so unhappy And, oh man, is she unhappy We get passages from her psychiatrist throughout, and I actually felt those flowed and progressed the story along quite nicely I guess the whole thing just didn t ring true for me Really This woman sleeps with one man after another to I m sure this is supposed to be deep, to promote her unhappiness, to show how far off the deep edge she has gone But seriously, sex of this sort comes from deep childhood scars You may disagree, but I just don t think woman go for this kind of fucking sorry, but that s what it is , because they re miserable Maybe if I had felt some sort of connection to Anna, some sense of empathy But nothing drew me in Still, it is one heck of a character study, and so finely written I am a little torn, but I think the sexual descriptions were borderline porn Too bad, as I think the story would actually have been strengthened without it Sometimes, less is. I m pretty sure that I didn t like this I m giving it a note of uncertainty mostly because it is possible that maybe I also did It depends on whether it s about what I think it s about I hope I m wrong so many people liked this Let s find out, shall we So, if I m right, this is the story of Anna the housewife She lives in Zurich with her banker husband and three children She is natively American, but followed her husband when he returned home, after he told her, I think I want to marry you You seem like you would make a good wife to me She s been there seven years, and is only now beginning to speak the language, on her husband s insistence.And you know, what happens next, from a plot perspective, is pretty much what you d expect from the tale of a bored housewife Particularly when she is in Europe and you can assign the word ennui or existential to how she feels It s a slightly exaggerated version of it, sure, but the life or death importance that it assigns to marriage, and especially the heteronormative, male breadwinner, white and privileged kind felt very traditional There s really nothing new that s said about it here it even comes off as slightly dated The tone, the stakes, the flickering lights and especially the ending reminded me of nothing so much as The Awakening written in 1899 Except that book was beautifully simple and sincere and this book said all the same things, but with a Freudian presentation on top that Kate Chopin wouldn t have known about.But it can t possibly be about this, right guys I decided pretty early that that couldn t possibly be what this book was about We couldn t be being asked to consider the same tired plot as if it were new, with the same sort of stakes it would have had a century ago, simply because it was in a different place and different time.Perhaps then it was about using this familiar plot to explore a different sort of psyche in this situation The book starts off in a fairly linear fashion, but very quickly delves into the sort of elided time fuckery for which Virginia Woolf is famous, a stream of consciousness where memories dance with present time, which dances with distant memories, which in turn push you back into the present And you know what, I really did like this aspect of it I appreciated the way that memory bounced off of memory, taking you back a few days, then a few years, then back to the present, then into an imagined future, then painfully back into the present again I liked how the author arranged the memories so that we got psychological and plot reveals pretty much all throughout the second part of the book I think, that with a caveat that I will get to in a minute, this was the strongest aspect of a book There were definitely some moments I felt like I was really living the anxieties and depressions and sad little memories of this sad little woman.But of course, as I ve already mentioned, Virginia Woolf has done this so much better oh my goodness read Mrs Dalloway now if you don t know what I mean and at a time when it made sense to reckon with this particular category of woman And, of course, this wasn t done nearly so well The constant interruptions of the therapist to tell us her interpretation of the deeper meaning of the story symbolically, in profound therapist talk and analogy, got really unbearable really quickly It was like having a really pretentious, humorless peanut gallery World s worst MST3K, with one the main character jumping off the screen to participate The woman literally brings her dreams to dissect It was so tired.So maybe the point was for us to see a different kind of housewife I stuck with this theory for a pretty long time, and I think maybe I m right about it The woman we meet is no strong willed woman who is just looking for the slightest crack in her cage to escape This is no frustrated woman who feels guilted or cornered for the most part into her choices, even if she wants other things She isn t even a battered woman who is threatened.Instead, Anna finds herself to be passive which is used throughout the book to describe her She is the sort of person who takes someone else s lead, gladly, and lets her objections melt away, if she even remembers she had any to begin with This woman sleeps with every man she s ever dated on the first date, at the slightest suggestion that she do so When Bruno tells her that she would make a good wife for him, she agrees that she is the kind of person who would make a good wife for him She tells us that her favorite aspect of her husband is how big he is, what a dominating presence he is He filed all her residency permit paperwork, he deals with officials She does not have her own bank account and it takes her seven years to even find this inconvenient Other modern women rage at her, condescend to her and don t understand her, in turnsDon t you think you have a responsibility to be something Anna s response never varied I can see your point You may be right Her therapist seems to pull her hair out when Anna will not admit to wanting to take up a single fulfilling hobby for herself and even her traditional husband expects her to have the ability to be independent, even if she doesn t regularly exercise it when they first arrive in Zurich, he takes her on a brief tour and then gives her a map and tells her to go explore She tries once and then gives up, terrified and never tries again.It was sort of interesting in the sense that it was mirroring the book itself we re being asked to encounter a woman whose philosophy of life and personality really seems to have no real reason to exist in this time or place Except, of course, that this is the way that she has chosen to be, or we are dealing with someone who simply has this sort of personality and is has the misfortune to be aware she is supposed to be ashamed of it and to care about that I think the most interesting aspect of this for me was considering her actions in this book view spoiler all the adulteries, all the lies as something that happened because people kept telling her that what she was doing was wrong Well okay then, I ll act like I ve been oppressed and caught out, because you ve put the idea in my head that I should be Enough people disapproved of her retrograde choices, with no voices on the other side, that she began acting out a rebellion narrative that never needed to exist, because part of her passivity is that she not only does what people want, she absorbs their idea of her hide spoiler NO SPOILERS No doubt about it, Jill Alexander Essbaum took a risk with Hausfrau The protagonist is a 37 year old woman who engages in a series of affairs as unlikable main characters go, the titular hausfrau housewife , Anna, is up there Some initial buzz dubbed Hausfrau something along the lines of Madame Bovary meets Fifty Shades of Grey, but unfortunately, readers looking for a true cross between these will need to keep searching What s here is depressing at the same time it s hyper sexual, poorly characterized at the same time it s overburdened with long blocks of moody exposition and direct telling As for the main character, whether she can be sympathized with is very debatable.Although Essbaum s actual writing is skillful, sometimes lyrical, and even impressive at times save for egregious overuse of proper names , her plot is scattered The narrative is poorly organized, with expository flashbacks rudely interrupting present day occurrences throughout The necessity of these flashbacks is questionable, and they can be confusing Readers who dislike the flashback technique in general will be particularly frustrated Hausfrau takes place in Switzerland, a setting choice that nicely underscores American Anna s feelings of general disconnectedness, but what s strange is how the setting fits into the story Essbaum shoehorned in facts about the country at random points These factual asides feel a bit like they break the fourth wall, not just disrupting the story s flow but damming it One such example, planted between description of Anna s new German language class and a therapist session Migros is the name of the largest chain of supermarkets in Switzerland and Switzerland s biggest employer More people work for Migros than any Swiss bank worldwide But Migros is bigger than supermarkets alone There are Migros owned bookshops, Migros owned gas stations, Migros owned electronics outlets, sports stores, furniture dealers, menswear shops, public golf courses, and currency exchanges Migros also governs a franchise of adult education centers There isn t a Swiss city of significant population where at least one Migros Klubschule doesn t exist And it s not just language classes they offer You can study most anything at the Migros Klubschule cooking, sewing, knitting, drawing, singing.Perhaps Essbaum s goal was scene setting and fully immersing the reader, but she succeeded only in sounding like a travel guide The flaw isn t major the information is oftentimes interesting but it s annoying to be spirited away from the main character and her life to receive a school lesson It seems clear Essbaum was aiming for Hausfrau to be a powerful character driven story It s populated by a few core characters, each of whom is connected to Anna, some significantly than others Unfortunately, the characterization is cardboard, and as such, makes it hard to connect with anyone The husband is standoffish and nondemonstrative The best friend is cheerful to a fault The mother in law is disapproving and judgmental Another friend is insipid and self absorbed Each lover is pretty much just a lover, save for a few superficial defining qualities Even Anna herself is really little than a woman unraveled Herein lies one of the story s biggest, most unfortunate flaws Hausfrau plunges head first into Anna s anguish It starts with her already mostly unraveled it s not about her unraveling never is it entirely clear how she reached a point of such desperation All that s known is her marriage is unfulfilling, she and her mother in law dislike each other, and she feels lonely as an expatriate in Switzerland A fleshed out backstory, a history, specifically of her marriage, is desperately needed to better inform the present occurrences and lend them the gravity they fully deserve Essbaum certainly tried to delve deeply into the psychology of her hausfrau, but she relied too strongly on a psychiatrist character It sounds intriguing a psychiatrist to plumb the hidden depths of Anna s psyche and shed light on her tragic behavior, but it s just not Descriptions of these visits which, like the flashbacks, are sprinkled throughout consist of chunks of esoteric Jungian speak The doctor speaks in broad, theoretical generalities that too often sound like gobbledygook quite frankly, she says a lot without saying very much of anything Add to that inscrutable entries from Anna s dream journal, and these parts come across like an attempt to add literary heft than genuine insight into a disturbed psyche Sadly, these sections also are the most glaringly disruptive to the narrative whenever the story starts moving full steam ahead, these stomp on the brakes.Not surprisingly, when these sections take of a back seat in the story s final third, Hausfrau is easily arresting though that s not the only reason here Essbaum captured the hollowness and agony of deep mourning, and it radiates an intensity that may elicit a few tears if not full on weeping Her inclusion of female friendship also is notable it seems not enough stories portray relationships between women, and Hausfrau depicts a functional and dysfunctional female friendship A review of this book would be incomplete without mentioning that despite the conservativeness implied by its title, Hausfrau is a very sexually charged story The sex scenes are numerous arguably too many and they re not fade to black quite the contrary Essbaum s book will never be nominated for a bad sex in fiction award, but the descriptions are graphic to the point of gratuitous at times, and sometimes crude Some restraint wouldn t have hurt the story and may actually have strengthened it.In sum, Hausfrau is about a woman on the brink who s on a self destructive path It s short on dialogue and action and long on exposition and it s a hopeless story there s no mirth, no light to be found in its pages, not even a glimmer. Love is a fire But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell Joan CrawfordThe last sentence of this book is still ringing in my head I cannot tell you what a delight and challenge it was to read It s no surprise that Essbaum is first a poet, second a novelist This book was gripping, extremely sensual, raw and biting, and incredibly sad That being said, it s probably one of the best books I ve read in a long time.Outwardly, Anna seems like a perfect American expat wife in Switzerland She loves her husband, three children, and being a homemaker, or hausfrau Inwardly, Anna has many, many secrets Essbaum ingeniously weaves Anna s psychoanalysis sessions with her psychiatrist, her German language classes, and her daily excursions, to enter Anna s mind and inner world Both her mental clarity and lack of conscience are enough to make you shutter, but still want to reach out to her and save her I love this woman in admitting as much, are there parts of her that all women can relate to I think so Note how she relates the feelings associated with the ending of a relationship Fire is beautifully cruel That fusion occurs only at a specific heat That blood, in fact can boil That the dissolution of an affair is an entropic reaction, and the disorder it tends toward is flammable That a heart will burn And burn and burn and burn That an ordinary flame s hottest point cannot always be seen Here s another of Anna s contemplations that is so simple and yet profound Anna loved and didn t love sex Anna needed and didn t need it Her relationship with sex was a convoluted partnership that rose from both her passivity and an unassailable desire to be distracted And wanted She wanted to be wanted As a film buff, a lot of the elements presented in this book reminded me of revamped versions of a couple of my favorite classic films both French Belle de Jour and Diary of a Chambermaid In the end, you learn so much about the protagonist through their actions, but know so little about who they truly are They hold the audience and reader at a careful distance, and we re left to our own haunting conclusions by the end. The book had me at the first line Anna was a good wife, mostly Anna, a complicated woman with a secret life, is in a constant state of longing, shame, and self loathing She is unfaithful to her husband but faithful to her soul searching But who wants to keep reading a book about an unfaithful wife who feels shitty I wanted to keep reading because of how well drawn Anna is, because of the art that Essbaum uses to develop her, because of the way Essbaum beckoned me to enter Anna s head and help her sort it all out Search for the elusive hope.My only, and I do mean only, complaint is that there are too many map details After all, I m not a taxi driver in search of a GPS The book is set in Switzerland, which is cool, but I could have done without all the street names Besides, they are long and unpronounceable, as is often the case with German But big deal, right I don t have to pronounce them out loud, so I don t know why it bothers me to not be able to pronounce them in my head.In this book, action is in short supply and humor is completely missing, so if you re wanting something fast or funny, forget it But if you re looking for a book that makes you think, one that is full of psychological and philosophical insights, and whose language is impeccable and clever, go no further And even though there s not a lot of action, there is a well developed plot.A warning In the first half of the book, there is some crude sex, which doesn t seem to fit with the tone of the book Honestly, I just wasn t expecting the word blowjob to appear in a book that doesn t have a conversational tone Yikes, am I saying blowjob is conversational I can t remember the last time I used blowjob in a conversation Anyway, the sex stuff didn t offend me, it just surprised me.Oh, so many cool things about this book There s a psychiatrist with a Jungian bent who spouts wisdom She appears right in the middle of scenes, but she isn t in the least intrusive I gobbled up her words, and highlighted until the cows came home.Another cool thing I got to be in the past and the present on the same page, without ever losing my place I didn t once say, Huh Where am I Essbaum picks me up and sets me down in another place in time, and then picks me up and sets me right back down in the place where I started, and I never stumble It s seamless and it s magical.And I m always a sucker when a writer does clever stuff with the language Anna is taking a class in German grammar So throughout the book, German language structure is applied to life Here are two gems She was sloppy in her conjugations, reckless in her positioning She confused tense with mood and relied too often on the passive voice And Weak verbs are regular verbs that follow typical rules Strong verbs are irregular They don t follow patterns You deal with strong verbs on their own terms Like people, Anna thought The strong ones stand out The weak ones are all the same I m not surprised that Essbaum was a poet first the language is gorgeous What is surprising is that this is her debut novel she seems like such a seasoned pro.Hausfrau is deep, thought provoking, and perfect in style and tone And it s a luscious character study I hope that Essbaum has a bunch Hausfraus sitting around in her head, and that she ll turn them into books I will ferociously gulp them down.