Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fresh Ink: Spotlight on Debut Books of All Kinds

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For readers of Claire Messud and Mary Gaitskill comes a striking debut novel of marriage, fidelity, sex, and morality, featuring a fascinating heroine who struggles to live a life with meaning.
 
 
Anna was a good wife, mostly.

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Z├╝rich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her.

But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.


Read an Excerpt from ‘Hausfrau’ by Jill Alexander Essbaum

INTERVIEW: Jill Alexander Essbaum, author of Hausfrau 


Praise for the book: 
“Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman’s desperate soul.”~People

“With an elegance, precision, and surehandedness that recalls Marguerite Duras’s The Lover and Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac, Jill Alexander Essbaum gives us this exquisite tale of an expatriate American wife living in Switzerland and her sexual and psychic unraveling. Hausfrau stuns with its confidence and severe beauty, its cascading insights into the uses of erotic life and the nature of secrets, the urgency of compulsion and the difficulty of freedom. This is a rare and remarkable debut.”~Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander

“Over a century after the publication of Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, poet Essbaum proves in her debut novel that there is still plenty of psychic territory to cover in the story of ‘a good wife, mostly.’ . . . The realism of Anna’s dilemmas and the precise construction of the novel are marvels of the form. . . . This novel is masterly as it moves toward its own inescapable ending, and Anna is likely to provoke strong feelings in readers well after the final page.” ~Publishers Weekly

“In Anna Benz, Essbaum has created a genuine, complex woman whose journey—no matter how dark it may be—reveals truths as only great literature can. She may have her roots in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Flaubert’s Emma Bovary or Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, but she is a thoroughly modern and distinct character. Hausfrau is not just an exceptional first novel, it is an extraordinary novel—period.” ~Shelf Awareness

“This debut brilliantly chronicles a woman’s life falling apart. . . . Fifty Shades for the literati.” ~The Times (U.K.)

“I loved this brilliant, insightful, and devastating novel about Anna: trains . . . adultery . . . the punctual, rigid Swiss . . . Jungian analysis . . . anhedonia . . . more adultery and more trains . . . and Jill Alexander Essbaum’s beautiful sentences strewn with sharp thorns that prick and cut straight into the heart of a woman’s unfulfilled life. I wish I had written it.”~Lily Tuck,  author of The News from Paraguay

“A stunningly written, hauntingly paced book. Anna Benz has the weight of a classic heroine—isolated yet crowded—but she is utterly modern in Jill Alexander Essbaum’s hands. Reading Hausfrau is like staring at a painting that simultaneously seduces and disturbs. Even when you want to turn away, you find your feet are planted to the floor.”~Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake

“Hot damn, is Hausfrau a beautiful, heart-wrenching novel. It casts a spell that doesn’t stop working until that wonderful final line. Jill Alexander Essbaum has a seismic talent, and it shows on every page of her first novel. Just read this bad boy. Like right now.” ~Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver


2 comments:

Visit my site for Belden Catalogue said...

I loved this book. It wasn’t perfect; there were flaws. But it resonated with me in such a personal way. And while this does make me worry that I might be treading into cliche “despondent housewife” territory myself, I still appreciate that Essbaum was able to capture one woman’s complicated state of existence so beautifully.

Marlene Detierro said...

This is not a fun novel. It is not a peach of a read. But if a woman out there needs a wake up call, I would say, read this book. If someone wonders how a battered woman feels, this is the book to read. Especially in a new culture where it's somehow "exciting and retro", to be into weird dangerous liaisons with total strangers. This is proof of what can happen.

Marlene
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