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Hausfrau

Narrated by: Mozhan Marno
Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
3.6 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Summary

An extraordinary debut literary pause-resister with echoes of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina.

Anna Benz lives in comfort and affluence with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Anna, an American expat, has chosen this life far from home; but despite its tranquility and order, inside she is falling apart.

Feeling adrift and unable to connect with her husband or his family; with the fellow expatriates who try to befriend her; or even, increasingly, her own thoughts and emotions, Anna attempts to assert her agency in the only way that makes sense to her: by engaging in short-lived but intense sexual affairs.

But adultery, too, has its own morality, and when Anna finds herself crossing a line, she will set off a terrible chain of events that will end in unspeakable tragedy. As her life crashes down around her, Anna must then discover where one must go when there is no going back....

©2015 Jill Alexander Essbaum (P)2015 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Critic reviews

“A tense novel about morality, fidelity and identity.” (Elle Magazine)
“This slow-burning literary novel of marital disintegration will leave you in bits. It’s a bleak, but beautiful read, with echoes of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.” (Glamour Magazine)
“It’s the book that will have everyone talking… The author spent unhappy years in Switzerland and the sense of alienation in the book rings true. By the end you might like Anna a little more – and you’ll certainly have a lot to think about.” (Cosmo Magazine)
“I read this in one sitting, transfixed by this insightful and shocking portrait of a woman on the edge.” (Woman & Home)
"To the steaminess of EL James’s erotic classic, it adds the marital dysfunction of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and the commuter neuroses of Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train. There won’t be a sun lounger or beach bag without it this summer.’ (Laura Freeman, Sunday Telegraph)

What listeners say about Hausfrau

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Awful accents!

I enjoyed the book and the narrator was generally good but her accents are shocking! Almost worth a listen for her Scottish and Welsh accents alone - terrible.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

50 Shades meets Rough Guide to Canton Zurich

I was drawn to the book firstly because of the narrator, who I know as an actress, then when I read the synopsis, to the landscape of the story. Positives - it gave me a trip down memory lane, as the main character frequented places I used to and in the same time frame that I did. The author also captured the isolation of an ex-pat in Zurich, and many of the experiences of the protagonist were similar to my own - standoffish Swiss relatives and acquaintances of a Swiss partner, the loss of self-confidence in the face of mistakes that in your own country wouldn’t even appear on any radar. The difficulties of integrating into a culture that is similar, yet different to one’s own (it’s probably easier in a way to acclimatise to a more alien culture, because your expectations of yourself and others are much lower). Having had a supportive partner, that’s where the similarities end. The tipping point in the book was well written from an emotional view, as were the last few chapters. The actual structure and style of the storytelling were also interesting and entertaining to a point. Negatives - the protagonist was not likeable - despite us having similar experiences within Switzerland, there was a disconnect in her responses. She despised herself from the start of the book, but with little context for her self-hate. I suspect she had a chronic adjustment disorder and the people around her, including the psychiatrist, were remiss in the way they dealt with her. Actually, most of the characters were unlikeable - the husband, the mother-in-law (who was reminiscent of my own), her friends and colleagues all seen through her jaded gaze. Are there really so many people who lack humanity? It felt it was written as though the author believed that she should have all the blame, but in reality, it’s not so black and white. There was too much detail for the average reader to enjoy. The various tram stop, street and station names were great for me, but had it been a city with which I had little to no experience, then it would have proved an annoyance. The sexploits, for me, contained far too much detail, in a similar way to the geography, and repetition thereof. Other people’s sexual experiences are as interesting to me as the street names of a city I have no relationship with. The detail overshadowed the plot, seemed more important than the story somehow. It ended in an understated and quiet way, quite contrary to the melodrama of the protagonist’s ways of seeing her world.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

perfect

Any additional comments?

A\wonderful book , which I am sure some readers will hate for the very reasons I loved it.Real people do not all have happy lives.

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Utterly compelling narrative, compellingly read

A powerful story, that moves inexorably to its inevitable, tragic conclusion, one entirely of Anna's own making, but still, I felt only compassion for her throughout. The reading is superb, emotionally pitch perfect. As a British listener I could have done without the American English, but that is a minor quibble.

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Tragic!

What other book might you compare Hausfrau to, and why? The Yellow Wallpaper Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you? The ending of this book made me shout out and cry. I also had to deliver the ending to my Audible book club friend as she totally missed what happens.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Compelling but a bit depressing!

Interesting story which was well written and kept my attention better than a lot of audio books...however as it neared the end I felt it got a bit depressing for me!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Tragic

I so didn't like her from the beginning of the book and throughout. By the end, I was happy for her choice

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Too many words

Nothing very much happens until near the end and everything was described in great detail. All the street names were mentioned every time the heroine set foot outside her house.

1 person found this helpful