Review: The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J Finn
Genre: Crime Thriller
"It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems."
Why you should give it a go:
For me, it doesn't get better than a good Thriller. If you read and liked Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train or anything similar, then you will definitely enjoy The Woman in the Window. I was reluctant to read this to begin with; the premise of an unreliable narrator witnessing a crime has been so common lately in the thriller genre, and I just felt like a rehashing of this concept would not interest to me.
How wrong I was.
I finished the book within 24 hours; as soon as I started I couldn't put it down. The plot is packed with the anticipated twists and excitement but has a fresh and exciting narrative. It follows Anna Fox, a chronic agoraphobic, who lives her life through the people she watches through the window. She becomes obsessed with the new family that moves in - they remind her of the life she used to have. But then she becomes a witness to a terrible event - or does she? This book will keep you guessing right to the end.
It is a homage not just to Rear Window, but noir in general. If you're a fan of Hitchcock then this is right up your street. Expect endless film references, dark and gritty settings, and a troubled but endearing protagonist. And if that's not enough to convince you, book deals have been struck up in 38 countries and FOX has bought the rights to the film already - surely that many people can't be wrong.
*WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!*
The Good Bits
This is one of the best books I've read in a long while.
Some of the twists I was genuinely not expecting, and I love it when I am caught by surprise. When the truth is revealed about Anna's family, I audibly gasped. The conversations between Anna and Ed had felt so real to me; their nicknames, the way she knew what he would say or how he would react to the ongoings of her everyday life, it just felt like a confirmation that their love was still there, and that she would eventually get better and rejoin her family. I did think it was strange that they were separated but still spoke everyday, but I just thought this meant they had separated due to her illness, but still loved each other. When I realised they were only alive in her memories, I felt the despair and over-whelming sadness she had been living with. This was the biggest reveal and the most impactive moment in the book for me.
Plus, from this moment forward, I began to doubt not only Anna's narration that followed, but everything I had read so far. I was so unsure whether I believed in what she thought was happening, but I didn't want to accept it was all in her mind. I found her to be a brilliant, endearing character. She is an alcoholic, dangerous self-medicator and unfaithful, but I found myself looking past these flaws and strangely seeing a reasonable and understanding woman, who I desperately wanted believe in. I think thats why the ending was so satisfying for me; it wasn't all in her head, she trusted what she saw and was eventually proved to be right.
But it's not just the plot that should be celebrated, but the prose as well. It is masterfully written: A.J Finn controls the pace impeccably, combining flashback, description and dialogue in a way that causes an intense dramatic experience for the reader. We are slowly fed pieces of information, enough to spark interest to find out more, but without taking anything away from the big reveals. He expertly balances his close attention to detail with a thrilling pace, a hard task which he should be given credit for.
The Bad Bits
If I'm honest, there's not much I didn't like about this book. Yes, some things were a little predictable ( Anna spent way too much time speaking to the old lady online for it to be unrelated to the plot) but in general it kept me guessing as a good thriller should.
The only small criticism I have would be that the beginning chapters are a little slow and confusing. I didn't feel completely gripped within the first few chapters, but luckily, I was driven on by the glowing reviews I had heard. Despite this, I do think that this slower start meant Anna's character was fully explored; the length of time we spent exploring the same four walls with her really emphasised her condition and gave us a window into her mind; whilst she watched others, we were watching her. I don't think the rest of the book would have been as enjoyable without this start, so it's not really a negative factor.
Read this book. It is both thought-provoking and emotionally fulfilling, with noir nuances scattered throughout.
What did you think of The Woman in the Window? Let me know in the comments below!