If the unexamined life is not worth living, then the life of Anna Benz should be rich and fulfilling. The introspective Anna spends nearly all her days and nights reflecting on her life--her often distant banker husband, Bruno, his family, her three children, her expatriate Zürich surroundings, her Jungian psychoanalysis and her lovers. Consumed by a listless sadness, she fills sleepless nights wandering the hills behind her suburban house and empty days riding the trains and walking the streets of the city. With Bruno's encouragement, she had begun psychotherapy in an effort to become more engaged in her Swiss life and meet new people. And so she does. After a brief, passionate love affair with a visiting Boston scientist, she indulges in more sexually intense and transitory liaisons. She finds adultery "alarmingly easy" and tells herself that it satisfies and suits her: "Surrender is your strong suit. Assent, your forte." From a "good wife, mostly," Anna becomes an active adulterer: "Some women collected spoons. Anna collected lovers."
In Anna Benz, Jill Alexander Essbaum has created a genuine, complex woman whose journey--no matter how dark it may be--reveals truths as only great literature can. Hausfrau is not just an exceptional first novel, it is an extraordinary novel--period. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.