The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn published in 2018.
“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.”
This might end up being a short review because there are only so many different ways of saying “I love this book so much.”
I had the amusement of following Anna Fox, a former child psychologist living in her New York home, or should I say, never leaving her New York home. A traumatic incident leaves her with agoraphobia (an anxiety disorder that causes one to fear open and unfamiliar spaces), which causes her to be a prisoner in her own home. To pass the time, she watches her neighbours live their own lives. When the Russell family moves into the house across the park, Anna’s world is turned on its head. She finds solace in Jane Russell and her son Ethan, staying clear of the short-tempered Alistair Russell. One day she witnesses something that wasn’t for her eyes, yet the mixing of her medications and alcohol causes her accusations to sound…a bit untrustworthy to those around her. Fighting to be believed and convinced she is being gaslighted, we are by Anna’s side as secrets are spilled and true identities are revealed.
I hope I don’t sound like I’m exaggerating when I say this is one of the best books I’ve read in a really long time. There isn’t anything I avidly disliked about this story. It was beautifully crafted from the very first page to the last sentence. The Woman in the Window is the epitome of suspense. I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the novel, enthralled at each twist and turn (and there were quite a few twists). It was very Hitchcock-esque, which is ironic because the main character is an ardent fan of classic thriller movies.
One of the many aspects I adored was the short and sweet chapters. Overall, the book was organized by what day the chapters took place on, and the chapters that were within these sections were typically no longer than five pages or so. Personally, I love that. It builds a delectable tension that is meant to be savoured in quick bursts. The end of each chapter ended in thrilling one-liners that kept me wanting more. Actually, just by appearance, it’s one of my longer reads (a hearty 427 pages), yet I sped through it surprisingly quick. After reading some other reviews, I discovered this is not uncommon, so obviously others can’t keep themselves from putting this book down either.
Another thing I loved was Finn’s actual writing style. It was comfortable and casual, not too advanced or pretentious. Specifically, the imagery is picture-perfect. A huge reading pet-peeve I have is over-analyzed imagery. I don’t need a paragraph long description on the shape of one cloud or how the coffee tastes. Give me the necessary details with some classic metaphors so I can have a colourful view of my character’s surroundings and I’ll be happy. That’s what Finn gave me, and I’m so thankful I didn’t have to suffer through endless adjectives and pointless explanations.
The characters were quite intriguing, specifically our protagonist Anna Fox. I found myself pitying her and her situation, wanting to reach out and help her. But I also related to her and believe that any average person who reads this will also understand her emotions. I think everyone knows that frustrating feeling when what you’re saying is not believed by the majority of people. The motivation and determination one might feel to prove that they are right are palpable, and we see this through Anna. She’s likeable yet has her flaws, as every notable character does, and I was rooting for her every step of the way.
Now I need to address the ending—nothing will be spoiled, so don’t worry. There is definitely a major twist in the end that I didn’t see coming (though I’m rather naïve when it comes to story twists). The final scenes were dramatic but not impractical. It was very action-packed and made up for some sedated parts around the middle of the story. The ending surpassed my expectations and left me utterly satisfied with every aspect. The length was ideal and all loose ends were tied up, only leaving the faintest elements to the imagination, leaving an endless amount of possibilities for Anna’s character in the future.
I’m not typically the one to re-read books, but I can see myself picking this one up again in the future. It’d be so interesting to dive back in now that I know the ending so I could revel in my newfound dramatic irony. This book is for anyone and everyone. If you can read, you should go pick up The Woman in the Window. After you’re done reading it, give it to your friend so they can read it too. And then give it to everyone in your family, and your co-worker as well, and maybe your dog while you’re at it. I promise none of you will regret investing yourself into Anna’s story.