Culture Street

Is Hausfrau the literary Fifty Shades of Grey? With central themes of therapy and adultery, it has already generated a great deal of chat.

Whatís it about?
Anna Benz is the heroine of Hausfrau. She 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 tranquillity and order, inside she is falling apart.

Feeling adrift and unable to connect with her husband, his family, or fellow expatriates, Anna chooses solitude over friendship.

That is until she engages in short-lived but intense affairs to keep her loneliness at bay. 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.

Who wrote it?
Jill Alexander Essbaum is the author of several collections of poetry. Hausfrau is her first novel. Like Anna, Essbaum lived in Switzerland for three years while her husband was studying. She too had to cope with loneliness.

Hausfrau is published by Pan Macmillan ($29.99)

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