Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum

Hausfrau - Jill Alexander EssbaumOriginal book title: Hausfrau
Author: Jill Alexander Essbaum
Publisher: Brombergs
Year of publication: 2015
Format: Paperback
Language: Swedish

In Hausfrau we follow Anna Benz, an American living in Switzerland with her husband and their three children. Anna lives a relatively comfortable life but she is miserable inside. She is emotionally disabled and cannot be bothered to engage in either her own life or her family’s life. To suppress the turmoil going on within her Anna begins to go to therapy and takes on multiple lovers.

This is a very depressing and at times frustrating book to read. Anna’s character is difficult to like and difficult to identify with. The book’s chapters jump between Anna’s therapy sessions, life as a housewife, German lessons and sex scenes. Through Anna’s unhappy gaze, we see a cold and tough Switzerland.

I understand and see what Jill Alexander Essbaum writes about but I don’t like the package it comes in. Essbaum takes up the lopsided gender roles, loneliness, inclusion and exclusion, but it is so terribly depressing. As a reader I’m trying to understand and sympathize with Anna but for every foolish decision she makes I become more frustrated. I know I shouldn’t be so hard on Anna, she feels bad and lonely but I just can’t empathize or understand her. It’s pity because the message of this book is very important and I can understand it but my reading experience didn’t improved because of that knowledge.

The only thing that was uplifting in this book was the cover. Everything else was deeply depressing.