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
A.J. Finn respins a contemporary version of Rear Window set in Manhattan, New York. This dark psychological thriller has the pill taking, wine drinking, ex-child psychologist, Dr Anna Fox, residing in a three storey home that is the sum total of her world. Anna, you see, is an agoraphobic, and cannot step outside her home, she has lived like this for 10 months after a mystery trauma blew apart her world. She lost her marriage, her family and her career, although she does spend considerable time in communication with her ex-partner and her daughter, who is in his custody. Anna spends her days engaged in various activities, such as chess and learning French. She is a old black and white crime noir film aficionado, that includes watching Hitchcock movies with their motifs that spill over into Anna's actual life.
Anna gets her dose of the outside world by people watching, observing the lives of her neighbours, like the Millers, through her window with her camera. A new family moves in directly opposite Anna, Alastair and Jane Russell with their son, Ethan. One day she observes a shocking event taking place in the Russells home. However, no-one believes her, including the police, and the Russells deny the allegations. Anna is your unreliable narrator, can she really be trusted? As Anna's paranoia levels reach sky high, she finds herself in increasing danger. She finds her past history colliding in her horrifying present. This is a story of twists, short chapters, and a narrative that proves to be fast paced, full of fear, tension and suspense. An engrossing and highly entertaining read that succeeded in holding my attention throughout. Many thanks to HarperCollins for an ARC.
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.
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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It isn't paranoia if it's really happening...
The Woman in the Window is intoxicating, dark, and simply unputdownable. AJ Finn's debut novel is placed in current day, gentrified Harlem, New York City, where Dr. Anna Fox spends her day in her five-story townhouse drinking Merlot, spying on her neighbors, and mixing pills to numb her thoughts. She has theories and pseudo-storylines for her neighbors, each one being unique and different in their own way. When she is not photographing and spying on her neighbors, Anna watches famous black and white movies to pass the time and regularly checks in with her daughter and husband, who she recently has separated from. Anna suffers from agoraphobia, preventing her from leaving the confines of her house and limiting her ability to experience the real world effectively. Her hours, days, and weeks are consumed by fear and curiosity. When her new neighbors move in across the park from her house, Anna is intrigued at their anonymity. As she begins to investigate the story of her new neighbors, something horribly goes wrong. Anna witnesses something that shouldn't have happened—or did she?
I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway and literally jumped out of my bed and yelled, "YESSS!!!" I immediately was drawn to the story because let's face it, spending time spying on your neighbors while drinking too much wine sounds like my Friday nights. I was curious to see how this story would develop and see what the hype was about. After getting hooked in right from the beginning, I figured out why. The Woman in the Window will definitely not be for everybody. The initial pacing is moderate, to say the least. I wouldn't classify it as a slow burn however, because as the story progresses, the character development of Anna and the provided characters becomes ever more intriguing. Nothing is rushed or overlooked—everything is portrayed at exactly the right time. Why is Anna agoraphobic? What's her mental state like? How is she coping? What's going on in the outside world that she's missing? Who are all these people around her? These are just some of the questions that pulled me in while starting The Woman in the Window and it kept me guessing until the end.
The Woman in the Window breaks away from the mold of some of the more recent in-your-face psychological thrillers that have been sprouting out more and more since the release of the book that shall not be named, and that's very refreshing to me. This type of psychological thriller really gets you in the mindset of Anna's psyche without throwing everything at you at once.
As I've stated earlier, this book will not be for everyone. This thriller breaks the mold and sets a new standard—so buckle up 2018!
Thank you Goodreads and William Murrow Books for my advanced copy.
4.5 stars!! Okay, the hype this book is getting is warranted. I usually stink at guessing the outcome of a mysterious plot, the “who done it” but I was spot on this time (yes!) and that still didn’t deter me from loving this book. The ending? CRAZY!!! P.S. Loved all the movie references!!