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.
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.
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