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Friday, June 19, 2015
Anna is a good wife, mostly. Hausfrau, German for housewife
is the perfect title for this intriguing, thoughtful, well written novel. The reviews were so diverse and incredibly harsh that I was on the fence as to whether to begin at all. I am glad I did. Hausfrau is the story of Anna and Bruno and their three young children. They have lived in Switzerland for the last 9 years after relocating from the states back to Bruno's homeland. He is a banker, described as beautiful but is cold and distant and very much keeps to himself. He loves his family, respects his mother Ursula and works hard at the bank. Anna is miserable. She is lonely but misses no one and nothing from her past life. She has escaped to a new life in Europe with expectations of happiness and fulfillment yet to be discovered. Finally, Anna succumbs to psychotherapy, Bruno wants her to get help, he knows she is sad almost all of the time. She looks into her past, she analyzes her future, she loves her children but yearns and craves to fill a void that is so empty it seems beyond repair. Anna has spent the last few years filling some of this void with affairs. Some meaningless, some not. Her lies have become twisted and harder to maintain. She has children to look after and a home to keep up. The tiniest bit of hope keeps Anna motivated to keep trying but it is hard and when tragedy faces the family, she crumbles. Other reviews mentioned the ludicrous idea that this was "Fifty Shades," I wonder if we actually read the same book. Other reviews could only say it was a depressing story but here is mine: I thought this was an excellent novel. The writing is beautiful and heartfelt and not typical. You can imagine Anna and her family and you can feel her pain. I do not believe this story is farfetched and although yes, it is sad, it is a real story of love and family. It is a glimpse at another culture and how they are similar and different from Americans. It is a woman who tries and tries but most likely had no chance at ever finding peace.