Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. A Tale for the Time Being
2. The Sun is God
3. The Keeper of Lost Causes
4. Lost and Found
5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower
6. How to be Both
7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
9. Levels of Life
10. The Seventh Day
11. Fortunately the Milk
11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle
12. The Agile Project Management Handbook
13. Reykjavik Nights
14. The Siege
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
by Jill Alexander Essbaum
My rating: 3 of 5 starsHausfrau
is the story of Anna, an expatriate American married to a Swiss banker and living in a Zurich suburb. Anna, who has always tended towards melancholy, is lonely and feels isolated by the stiff and diffident manners of her husband and the people around her, a feeling that is exacerbated by her inability to speak the local dialect.
Anna sublimates her loneliness in a series of adulterous affairs, which do not seem to give her much satisfaction. She sees a psycho-analyst, but refuses to engage and be open in her therapy. Every question the doctor asks is responded to with an honest internal answer, followed by a spoken obfuscation. Anna finds it hard to make friends, even among the ex-pat community she sees at a language school, although she seems to have little trouble taking lovers. I actually found this aspect of her character hard to understand; it didn’t really ring true.
I don’t want to say a lot about this book for fear of giving away too much. It’s well written, but I found myself wondering in which direction Essbaum would take her plot. It could have ended up as a romance, murder mystery, or a few other destinations. Maybe this second-guessing on my part was a sign that the author does not develop her plot enough, or does not really give us enough meat on the bones until the very last act.
I found it hard to empathise with Anna, and the reader is certainly not encouraged to identify with her husband Bruno or most of the other characters, really.
I did read this book with some discomfort, having worked as an ex-pat myself with my wife in quite a similar position to Anna’s. I hope I was a bit more understanding than Bruno, but it did cast the position I placed my family in in a slightly different light.
Overall, this is an OK book, By the end, the reader will identify the classic novel that has clearly inspired Essbaum, but I won’t name it.View all my reviews