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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jill Alexander Essbaum Narrator: Mozhan Marn Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Anna was a good wife, mostly.

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno, a banker, and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich, Switzerland. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her.

But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[An] exquisite tale of an expatriate American wife living in Switzerland and her sexual and psychic unraveling. Hausfrau stuns with its confidence and severe beauty, its cascading insights into the uses of erotic life and the nature of secrets, the urgency of compulsion and the difficulty of freedom. This is a rare and remarkable debut.”

    Janet Fitch, New York Times bestselling author of White Oleander

  • “Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman’s desperate soul.”


  • “Riveting and shocking.”

    Marie Claire (UK)

  • “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 (UK)

  • “This debut brilliantly chronicles a woman’s life falling apart…Fifty Shades for the literati.”

    Times (London)

  • “The ghost of Anna Karenina haunts the poet Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut, Hausfrau, about an American in Zürich with the perfect husband, perfect sons and perfect home; but she is far from the perfect wife.”

    Harper’s Bazaar (UK)

  • “You are quickly reminded while reading Hausfrau that Essbaum is first a poet. Her descriptions—from Anna’s mundane trips through the market to her extracurricular erotic trysts—are laced with poetic precision…a story that’s telling is just as artful as the story told…A quiet disruption that I still find myself thinking about weeks after reading.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “In Anna Benz, Essbaum has created a genuine, complex woman whose journey—no matter how dark it may be—reveals truths as only great literature can. She may have her roots in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Flaubert’s Emma Bovary or Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, but she is a thoroughly modern and distinct character…An extraordinary novel.”

    Shelf Awareness

  • “Over a century after the publication of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, poet Essbaum proves in her debut novel that there is still plenty of psychic territory to cover in the story of ‘a good wife, mostly’…This novel is masterly as it moves toward its own inescapable ending.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Essbaum, a poet, meticulously describes Anna’s conflicted mental state, giving the reader unwilling sympathy for this prickly heroine and her bad choices—and the slow realization that a crash is inevitable.”


  • “Mozhan Marnò‘s stunningly perfect performance elevates this unforgettable novel to stardom…One of the keys to Marnò‘s success is her ability to evoke the fog of Anna’s loneliness and depression and then pierce it cleanly during Anna’s moments of lucidity, resolve, and desperation. In addition, the European setting requires multiple accents, which are delivered skillfully by the multilingual Marnò. Listeners will be spellbound as Anna parses the intertwined layers of Swiss culture and language, Jungian analysis, and the inner conflict she experiences in her attempt to be ‘a good wife, mostly.’ Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “I was mesmerized by this book. Hausfrau creates a complete, engrossing, and particular world where nothing is as easy as it should be, according to the hopeful stories we tell ourselves. It’s a corrective novel, taking character, destiny, and our choices as seriously as a novelist can.”

    Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?

  • “Hot damn, is Hausfrau a beautiful, heart-wrenching novel. It casts a spell that doesn’t stop working until that wonderful final line. Jill Alexander Essbaum has a seismic talent, and it shows on every page of her first novel. Just read this bad boy. Like right now.”

    Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver

  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for March 2015
  • A Huffington Post Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2015
  • A BookPage Top Pick in Debut Fiction for April 2015
  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for Literature & Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2015
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