Hausfrau is a novel about an American woman married to a Swiss man and is living in a small town in Switzerland with her husband and kids. She gets bored and lonely. She f*cks some men. The end.
I thought that Anna as a character was interesting and complex. Yes, she acted selfishly out of her boredom and yes, she was the catalyst in her own boredom, but I was still very interested in what she was doing and why she was doing it.
This book definitely gave me Madame Bovary feels in that it was about a woman who decides to marry a man she’s iffy about, doesn’t have much going on in her life so she starts having affairs to fill the void. My confession: I hated Madame Bovary. Emma Bovary drove me nuts with the decisions she made and then her justifications for them. Anna Benz, the protagonist of Hausfrau, was less annoying to me because though she also made some stupid decisions, she didn’t martyr herself the way that Emma Bovary did. Hausfrau also had a similar tone to Madame Bovary which I surprisingly enjoyed in Hausfrau.
Digression: I have to add that I’m baffled by the Anna Karenina comparisons (blurb on the hardcover compares it to Anna Karenina). They’re nothing alike in tone or content. The only similarity is that they’re both named Anna and they’re both unfaithful to their husbands. Anna Karenina is about a whole slew of characters living in that time period and the titular character herself slowly becomes obsessed with one person in particular. Anna K (the character) also started off as a very social woman being quite happy with her life. In Hausfrau, Anna had a series of affairs in an effort to self medicate against the boredom and loneliness in her life (even though she was always a loner anyway).
Thankfully I read this book in the beautiful hardback. The paperback is cheesy and awful. What the heck, publishers?