Boy oh boy. I came across this book as a recommendation from my favorite literary podcast, “Literary Disco.” The author is a friend of one of the contributors, and he mentioned it and it sounded interesting, a sort of dark tale of an unsatisfied house wife, so I added it to my audiobook queue months ago and just now got around to listening to it as part of my commute/walk routine.
It was, interesting, to say the least. I’ll let this quote from Time magazine take it away: “In Hausfrau, Anna Karenina goes Fifty Shades with a side of Madame Bovary.” I agree with that pigeonholing to a certain extent, tough I don’t find her as successful Flaubert and I can’t speak to Karenina and Fifty Shades. I would add that even though that is the route Essbaum takes, it is a slow and frustrating journey to the inevitable end. This book was a real struggle because Anna is one of the most unlikable protagonists I have come across. She seems hellbent on destroying herself, and the complacency she exhibits in her life, coupled with her incredible commitment to making the wrong decision at every turn, makes you want to shake her. I wanted to be sympathetic because of some of the factors in her life, but she was just such a contributor to her bad fortune that it was hard to want better for her.
Plus, I’m not the kind of person why typically figures out plot twists but this one telegraphed everything clearly so I missed out on any surprises, or maybe that was the point, to show that even though it was obvious she was destroying herself she wouldn’t veer from the path? Basically, I am not really sure whether I thought this was a good or bad book, but it wasn’t for me. Especially on the heels of “Big Little Lies” watching a woman in physical and emotional turmoil wasn’t what I was in the mood for.