“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my time working with children, if I could whittle those years down to a single revelation, it’s this: They are extraordinarily resilient. They can withstand neglect; they can survive abuse; they can endure, even thrive, where adults would collapse like umbrellas.”
Written by A.J. Finn and published in 2018, The Woman In The Window follows Anna Fox who lives alone in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine, watching old movies, recalling happier times, and spying on her neighbours. When the Russells move into the house across the street, Anna thinks they look like the perfect family: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. But when Anna sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? Nothing is what it seems.
The following post is a review of the book only. You can read my review of the film in comparison to the book once it has been released.
As a female-led thriller, The Woman In The Window isn’t anything particularly new. The thriller side of the story is fine and I liked the Hitchcock feel to it with the constant references to classic black and white crime thrillers, but there wasn’t anything standout about it aside from that. There’s a lot that you can piece together yourself as there’s so much of the story that you know isn’t right and that will be unravelled in whatever way later on, so the generic thriller elements to it aren’t what you will remember this book for.
What I love about a story like this is that it’s often the things that you believe to be facts that are turned on their head. With the use of an unreliable narrator with faulty memories and problems with alcohol, the author plays around with your perception of what is true and what is imagined.
But the big twist for me wasn’t to do with the crime itself, but something else that I wasn’t thinking too much into that took me by complete surprise. This ‘twist’ along with the more powerful themes of depression and grief are what had me gripped throughout the second half of the book. I cried my eyes out for at least three chapters straight.
Anna isn’t very likeable at the beginning of the book as her problems seem to be of her own doing. It’s no wonder that nobody takes her seriously when all she does is drink and double dose on her medication into such a state that she’s just annoying to be around. But as the story progresses and we begin to understand her situation better, Anna becomes very relatable. The qualities that were once unlikeable now force you to sympathise with her in a really emotional way. As you begin to learn about how isolated and lonely she must be feeling, your heart cries out for her.
If you’re new to the genre, this is a great book for you to start with. If you’re already a fan of psychological thrillers, however, you’ll know exactly what to expect this average thriller, although there are definitely other elements to enjoy about it.
With short chapters and fast-pace, it feels like this book was written to be made into a film and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. The Woman In The Window is being adapted into a film in 2020, which I will upload the trailer for as soon as one becomes available.