Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum


“Every mask becomes a death mask when you can no longer put it on or take it off at will.  When it conforms to the contours of your psychic face.  When you mistake the persona you project for your living soul. When you can no more distinguish between the two.”

This was a book that I, admittedly, judged on its cover.  It’s hard to tell in the JPEG version of the cover, but in real life it’s iridescent and shiny, and just a gorgeous looking book.  After seeing it everywhere in Chapters, I decided to buy it when I saw it at Wee Book Inn even though I had no idea what the plot was.

This was a very well-written book about a subject that I do not care about or have interest in – the unwinding, thirty-something female adulteress who’s sexual adventures are a symptom of her mental health.  A Madame Bovary for the 2000s, I suppose.  But the pacing was perfect, there were some beautiful paragraphs, and Essbaum weaves the idea of the different components of language learning into the way we see our life, which I found particularly interesting.  For example: “Anna’s German homework regularly consisted of vocabulary drills, verb conjugation exercises, declension practice, and the writing of many, many, many sentences.  Love’s a sentence, Anna thought. A death sentence.”

The book had its heartbreaking moments and the climax of the downward spiral is predictable, but if you want a very well-written book about a woman cheating on her husband as she falls apart, I suppose I can recommend this book.

Books read: 14


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