THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW | A.J. Finn
01.02.2018 | William Morrow
Rating: 4/5 stars
Anna Fox lives alone in her spacious New York City residence. She used to filling her days as a psychologist and spending time with her husband and daughter. These days she can be found drinking copious amounts of wine, watching old movies, and spying on her neighbors. Anna suffers from agoraphobia, so in order to feel like she’s still connected to the outside world she turns to the lens of her camera, documenting her neighbor’s actions and making up stories about their lives. No one has ever confronted her about her spying, until the Russell family moves in across the street.
Something’s happening to me, through me, something dangerous and new. It’s taken root, a poison tree; it’s grown, fanning out, vines winding around my gut, my lungs, my heart.
The Russell’s are a picturesque family; a father, a mother, and a son living in harmony in their brand new home. Anna sees all of the love between them through her windows until one night when she sees the mother, Jane Russell, stabbed and bleeding out. Frantically, Anna calls the police about what she has seen. Her words are slurred thanks to a handful of glasses of wine, but that only increases her confidence that she can do the unthinkable, she can run across the street and save Jane. Things don’t play out quite how the story in Anna’s head would like. The police don’t believe her. The Russell’s call her a liar and a stalker. Can Anna prove that she’s not a drunk or insane? Can she solve the mystery of what happened in the Russell house?
You can hear someone’s secrets and their fears and their wants, but remember that these exist alongside other people’s secrets and fears, people living in the same room.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW starts off slow, building the story of Anna Fox’s current life. What sort of life does Anna lead? Most days she can be found with a glass of Merlot in her hand either watching an old school thriller, playing online chess, or playing doctor on an online forum for people suffering from agoraphobia, which Anna coincidentally has herself. Anna is able to give advice to those in need, but not take her tips and form a way to beat her phobia. She is vicariously leading her outside life through her neighbors, creating tales about their lives and stalking their book club selections. When the Russell’s move in Anna is instantly curious and hooked on knowing more about them. Jane Russell catches her in the act of spying and soon the two are chatting in Anna’s living room and the son, Ethan, is stopping in for visits. Anna’s life is seemingly turning toward the positive, but one night she witnesses Jane being stabbed across the street in the Russell house and her life quickly spirals out of control. The police don’t believe Anna, the Russell’s adamantly deny what Anna saw as reality, and Anna’s backstory is coming out with more details than she would like to share. Finn creates a captivating thriller in THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by drawing the reader into Anna’s present day life and slowly unveiling her past and the truth about Anna’s life and the Russell family. With short, easy to read chapters be prepared to stay up late flipping the pages to find out what is real and what is fiction.
As a side note, I read this book as a combination of listening to the audiobook during the week for my commute and then wrapped up reading it over the weekend. The audio was a little infuriating at times with the chat room conversations, but other than that I had no issues.