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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Cepholopod Coffeehouse: Hausfrau

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.  If you wish to add your own review to the conversation, please sign on to the link list at the end of my post.

Two weeks ago when I was working at the library, I was checking books in when I came across a novel by Jill Essbaum. Jill Essbaum is a poet and in 2010 she came to the West Chester Poetry Center to read for the evening. I loved her poetry and she even signed a poster for me. I squeed when I saw she wrote a novel in 2015 and had to check out it out. I'm glad I did!

Hausfrau is the German word for "Housewife." The story follows Anna, an American woman living in Switzerland with her husband, Bruno. Bruno is Swiss and is a Swiss banker; Anna doesn't have to work and keeps house. However, Anna is depressed because she does not have her own bank account, takes care of the children, and doesn't live like a modern woman. Bruno is tired of her depression; Anna seeks Jungian therapy and enrolls in German classes so she can make friends in Switzerland.

However, she begins affairs when she enrolls in German class. We learn she had an earlier affair, but German class made it easier. She also meets a new friend, a Canadian woman named Mary. Unfortunately, Mary unravels the secrets and Anna's life falls apart. I won't get into any spoilers because that wouldn't be fair.

I liked the book and thought it was great for Jill's first novel. It sounded like her poetry. Some reviews compare it to Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, but with a modern twist. I will admit I haven't read those two books, but I thought it was a decent psychological fiction. It made me think and I would recommend Hausfrau


  1. Wow! I could imagine how this would be a particularly difficult life, of itself. The isolation would be overwhelming. Sounds like quite a read!
    Thanks for sharing.
    V :)

    1. I'm in the process of (hopefully) immigrating to Canada. It's much easier to immigrate as a single person than it is when you marry. HOWEVER, I hope I don't experience this type of loneliness.

      I felt for Anna because it sounded like she was in an empty marriage. Possibly because her husband was Swiss and his upbringing, but she felt isolated. She also never wanted to become a mother, but had three children. Reading the reviews, readers HATED Anna and saw her as unlikable. Although I never condone adultery, I thought Anna was just a sad character that needed something. Her character made me think.

  2. This sounds very dramatic and I can sympathize with the protaganist's depression.

    1. I could too as I struggle with depression myself. I'm also in the process of (hopefully) immigrating to Canada, so the story hit close to home in that sense too.

      I would definitely recommend! There is a lot of Jungian analysis involved, which also makes the reader analyze their life (at least it made me analyze mine).

  3. Replies
    1. Jill was so much fun to meet! I'm happy her novel was a bestseller. :)

  4. Wow, interesting review. Not sure if I need to read about someone's depression right now but it sounds very dramatic and heart wrenching.
    Terrific review.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. It sounds like Anna was very unhappy. I would be too with no money and three kids and a husband who didn't get it!