Book Reviews & Essays on Literature

Hausfrau, by Jill Alexander Essbaum

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Hausfrau, by Jill Alexander EssbaumThe lead character in Hausfrau, “Anna Benz”, must be one of the most disagreeable people I have had the misfortune to experience in a novel. Not vicious or dangerous, but rather self-indulgent, passive, helpless, self-pitying, weak, out of control, and needy oh, good grief, so needy. To create such a memorably exasperating creature takes skill, so congratulations to Essbaum. All I could say at the end of this story of predestination, adultery, German grammar and psychoanalysis set in a charming Zurich suburb, was “good riddance”. I wondered, after I had finished it, what the point was – why Essbaum wrote this and what it is. Is the author to be praised for creating a novel of such unrelenting inevitability, in theme, plot and characterization – or not? (Continue reading…)

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