The Woman in the Windowby A.J. Finn Published 02 Jan 2018
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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.
"The Woman in the Window" Reviews
Who knows what goes on in a family?
Okay, I really don't want to misrepresent this book: The Woman in the Window is a pulpy, fast-paced popcorn thriller. It's not mindblowing or groundbreaking, but it is pageturning goodness. And it was exactly what I needed to get lost in right now.
The premise is a little bit of The Girl on the Train and a little bit of The Woman in Cabin 10 (what is it with these girl/woman/wife titles?!), with an unreliable narrator, faulty memories, alcoholism, and the author playing around with our perception of what is true and what is imagined. My need to know what would happen kept me turning pages late into the night until I was physically incapable of keeping my eyes open a moment longer.
The Woman in the Window treats a rather obvious plot element as a spoiler for most of the book, so I'll play coy too. It's about a woman called Anna who lives alone ever since separating from her husband and daughter. We're not told the circumstances of the separation, but we do know that Anna has a drinking problem and severe agoraphobia that prevents her from leaving the house.
Housebound and drunk, Anna spends her days spying on her neighbours, until one day she witnesses something shocking in the window of the Russell's home. Everything begins to unravel when Anna attempts to report what she saw, and soon everything is being questioned: Did Anna hallucinate? Is it a combination of alcohol and pills? Can she even trust herself?
The chapters are short and hard-hitting, making the fast-moving plot zip by even faster ("This is the LAST chapter. Oh wait, the next is only two pages? Okay, this is the last chapter"). I think the author does a great job of capturing both the fuzzy-headed confusion brought on by Anna's alcoholism and the suffocating claustrophobia of staying inside for almost a year. She makes for a pretty great unreliable narrator, and it is easy to feel her frustration when she can't even be sure herself if what she says is completely true.
I also really liked how the author included Anna's passion for classic thriller movies. These offer interesting parallels with her reality and make you question whether something really did happen, or if Anna just saw it in a movie. Plus there's something a bit creepy about all these black and white flicks playing out in the background.
The Woman in the Window is the kind of cozy psychological thriller that is easy to gobble up in a sitting or two. I didn't even mind that some things were obvious because the getting there was so damn fun and suspenseful. I'll be on the lookout for more from Finn.
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I'm surprised that I actually finished this novel because my patience was gone, girl.
5/5 Stars. I am SO BLOWN AWAY BY THIS NOVEL. The Woman In The Window is an absolutely amazing debut mystery-thriller. I cannot recommend it enough.
CW: agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, substance abuse/alcoholism, murder, death, grief
My favorite part of this novel is the writing style. A.J. Finn has the perfect sort of prose that forces you to think, “How can someone ACTUALLY think like this? How does someone forms the words to illustrate such a perfect passage?” This book is descriptive in a way I did not know ordinary things could be described. The writing is so beautiful. SO BEAUTIFUL. I am not the type of reader to get hung up on amazing vs. terrible writing, but I found myself pausing frequently while reading just to appreciate the sheer talent A.J. Finn possesses. I will literally read anything this man writes.
Being honest, The Woman in the Window is a bit slow to start. I listened to the audiobook so I don’t have an accurate understanding of the book page-number wise, but it took quite a few hours for the plot to really settle in. I feel the best way to describe the beginning of the book is “mundane” – It’s normal, ordinary, typical. We follow Anna through her routine, isolated days for many chapters at the start of the story with few peaks in plot to keep the story exciting. That being said, I can’t truthfully say it was boring. A.J. Finn’s writing is so intoxicating that reading about Anna sitting at her computer was enjoyable. It is slow paced to start, but not at all dragging and still enjoyable.
But of course, one of the absolute best aspects of the book is the immaculate plot. I love a thriller novel that has so many plot twists which all can convince me that the following twist is more believable than the last. Despite it’s slow pace, I felt as if I was at the edge of my seat for the entirety of the novel. I’m not the most prolific reader when it comes to thrillers, but The Woman In The Window is one of my favorites that I have ever read.
This book was absolutely amazing. I want to recommend it to absolutely everyone. I’m confident that A.J. Finn has become a new favorite author of mine and I’m so excited for the film adaptation of this novel and his future works.
I don't know if this is an unpopular opinion but I'm getting a bit tired of reading mysteries where the main female character is an alcoholic. I get it, it makes them unreliable (and relatable for some maybe?) but it's a cheap way of doing it.
With that said, I'm usually not too difficult with mysteries. They just have to not do anything stupid (racism, sexism...), be entertaining and have twists I don't see coming.
In this book, you're following a psychologist who went through something traumatic that left her agoraphobe and... an alcoholic. Sadly I saw the twists coming and some parts towards the end just didn't feel right.
However, I definitely felt like staying home and drinking... and I don't drink so I guess something in there worked... maybe?
If you're looking for what others have described as a "popcorn read" then this might be it for you!
You don't know how happy I was to get my greedy little paws on both the audio and Kindle versions of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. My expectations were through the roof! Have you seen all those 5 star reviews?
As it turns out, the book doesn't live up to the hype. Yes, it is as addictive as popcorn, I couldn't put it down. But, there are so many disappointing drawbacks that I couldn't rate it a 4 star read.
For audio-lovers, do not waste your precious Audible credit on this one. It is absolute trash. The actress portraying our boozy, traumatized victim/narrator is chirpy and confident sounding. Talk about a mindf*k! It does not work. In contrast, a similar book, The Girl on the Train is sheer perfection on audio.
At about 40%, I turned off the audio, opened my Kindle and aaaaahhhh...the world made sense again. You know how much I love my unreliable narrators and our girl, Anna, is a doozy. Although she is terrified to step outside of her home, all kinds of interesting events still manage to take place in her small neighborhood. She spies on the nearby residents out of boredom. She's a regular Gladys Kravitz (you know, from Bewitched?). We can't trust Anna's narration because she is depressed and suffering from a traumatic event. And she pops a lot of pills and glugs wine as a chaser. Yeah, her take on the neighbors is suspect at best.
All this is great. Absorbing. But, you know those people that use too many words and make simple matters overly boring? AJ Finn is one of those kind of writers. My patience runs thin with passages like this:
Frigid air seizes my body, so raw that my heart feels faint; storms my clothes, sets them trembling around me. My ears brim with the sound of wind. I'm filling up with cold, running over with cold.
Ugggghhhhh. I think she's cold.
The book is so long and repetitive. It has an interesting, yet heavily borrowed upon plot and there are a couple of major twists. The plot twists are predictable, you will see them from a mile away, but it is still fun to see if your hunches were right (they will be).
Just one more thing. Finn shoves a ton of film references into the storyline. At first, I loved it. Then, it becomes too much. It's as if he's saying, "I'm not borrowing plot lines, I'm just referencing them." Wink-wink. It's all too heavy handed and cutesy, we know what's really going on. There is not a single original concept about this book. Ultimately, underwhelming.
I had “The Woman in the Window” on my list to read, but thought it would be awhile before I got to it. But then I came across it on Audible. So I decided to use one of my credits for it. I am starting to enjoy audiobooks a lot more, though I do find them harder to review. I usually have a ton of post-it tabs in the books I read that help me keep track of things. With audio, I’m usually relaxing and don’t want to stop to make a note.
Anna Fox was once an active child psychologist with a wonderful life. But after a traumatic event almost a year ago, everything changed. She now suffers from agoraphobia. Her home is her entire world…she no longer goes outside. Anna’s life now consists of old movies, a lot of wine (and prescription pills), and online chat rooms. But she’s also found another way to spend her time…. watching the neighbors through her camera lens. She knows everyone’s schedule; she even knows who is having an affair.
Anna notices a new family has moved into the house across the street. They are the Russell’s, a married couple with a teenage son. From everything Anna has seen they look like the perfect family. But of course, looks are often deceiving. One evening, as Anna is watching the Russell house she sees something she’s was never meant to see, something horrible… and it sends her life into a tailspin.
Did Anna really see what she thinks she did or is it possible she was wrong? Could she have hallucinated or had a bad dream? She doesn’t know who she can trust. She’s positive of what she saw but can she make others believe her? And if she’s right…could she be in danger too?
To be honest, I had a hard time getting into the story at first. I wasn't connecting to the story and characters as well as many other readers did, which is fine as we won't all love the same books. I think I may have been expecting something different. I was a bit confused at times and although I eventually warmed up to the story and to Anna, it did take longer than I expected. I did enjoy the last part of the book so I am glad that I didn’t stop reading.
There were some very good twists, though I did figure out a few things ahead of time. I did like how everything came together in the end with a twist that I did not see coming.
Overall I thought this was a decent psychological suspense novel and I’m looking forward to seeing what A.J. Finn writes next.