The Real ‘Hausfrau’ of Zurich

March 13, 2015 1:16 AM

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The Real ‘Hausfrau’ of Zurich

Reader reactions to Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel “Hausfrau” sound like snippets from a gossipy neighborhood gathering. The title character, Anna Benz, “is a mess,” one reader posted on Goodreads. “This woman had problems long before she was married,” wrote another.

On Tuesday, Random House will publish “Hausfrau”—German for housewife—and introduce a wider audience to the book’s polarizing protagonist. An American living in Zurich with her Swiss husband and three children, Anna embarks on affairs with men she meets all over town: in her German class, at a birth...

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