Friday, 15 May 2015

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

“Anna could never really  love a Steve, a Bob, a Mike.”

Anna Benz is unhappy with her ‘perfect’ life in Switzerland with her Swiss husband and little children and  is seeking the answers from her analyst, and the odd ‘oops I did it again’ affair. She is not a happy camper, except for those fleeting encounters that put her at a remove from the monotony. How can someone whose love of constant innovation, excitement and new experiences deal with the quotidienne drama of married life? Obviously with difficulty.

Cheating is all well and good, but woe betide the woman who gets caught. Semi spoiler - The ramifications here are torturous and go beyond shame at being found out. Essbaum beautifully captures the escape of mad sexual abandon, combined with the over self analysis and guilt that haunts the transgressor.
Just when the book seems to be heading in a certain direction, the reader, like the protagonist is shocked into reality and then lulled into a typically understated but memorable conclusion with echoes of a certain famous Russian tome.

There is an immediacy in the writing that has strong resonance and I couldn’t put this one down in a hurry. I was reading this during a ridiculously stressful time at work, with a horrid cold and perhaps I could relate too closely with the feeling of life spinning out of control – but then my cold went away and  I laid off the Codrals. What woman hasn’t  had a moment of thinking “ I’m nothing but a series of poor choices executed poorly”?

5 out of 5 people can’t have their cake and eat it too.

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