“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 round my gut, my lungs, my heart.”
William Morrow | 2018
I went into this reading experience with full-blown anxiety triggered by a library return date breathing down my neck.
I assumed there was not enough time for me to get through this because my weekend included my in-laws staying over and a front-hall closet renovation. I decided to try anyway, because I ain’t no quitter. I opened this Saturday night, so completely aware that I had a Monday morning deadline that I got a little high first to set my nerves.
And guess what bitches!? I blew through this baby so hard I gave myself TMJ.
(My TMJ is a true story, but it’s not the book I blew through that gave it to me.)
Look, the truth is that this is not a groundbreaking novel, or even particularly original in its overall concept. I see a lot of middle-of-the-road reviews from my friends who just didn’t get into it, who thought it was overhyped and underwhelming and I understand. I think those reviews had a “Lowered Expectations” effect on me, because I FUCKING LOVED THIS BOOK.
Maybe it was the anxiety meets weed meets meh reviews, but holy shit if this isn’t the most fun I’ve had reading a book since…like…a week ago…
Okay, you know what? The timeline isn’t important.
Anna suffers from agoraphobia and is stuck in her multi-million dollar home with nothing to do but watch her neighbours, drink, watch her neighbours again, drink some more and take her pills, lots of pills. One night, in her drinking/pill popping stupor, Anna believe she sees something awful, yet no one believes her for very valid reasons.
“I think of Dr. Brulov in Spellbound: “My dear girl, you cannot keep bumping your head against reality and saying it is not there.”
Anna gave me super intense Dr. Helen Hudson vibes – the psychologist career, the drinking, the agoraphobia, the chess playing, the dude living with her and her presence on an agoraphobia forum where she dispenses advice.
Seriously, she’s Helen Hudson.
But, she’s Helen Hudson in a Hitchcock film and that made this pure popcorn reading for me. And by that, I mean, I literally ate popcorn because I had the munchies.
Anna was a perfectly drawn character. Self-aware and funny within her tormented, pathetic circumstances. So, utterly unreliable as a narrator that she didn’t even trust herself. Her frustration with herself was palpable and intense, giving the chapters a manic pace that had me literally unable to stop reading, just as Anna was unable to stop her confusion and panic.
“My head was once a filing cabinet. Now it’s a flurry of papers, floating on a draft.”
Usually, my body will give up on me and I’ll wake up with a book on my chest and my glasses still on, but this time I managed to make it all the way through to the end. When I checked the clock it was 1:30 in the morning and I had to be up for work in five hours.
Totally worth it.
I loved Finn’s writing style: his prose construction, his sense of humour, knowledge of his character and his timing with plot details. Not to mention, the simple beauty to how he describes a scene, pulls you in without overwhelming you. I especially swooned for all the black-and-white movie details; how the scene of a movie became parallel background noise to Anna’s actions was both atmospheric and clever. And how the movie dialogue became a second narration that perfectly matched Anna’s circumstance was brilliant.
These movie moments were a clear homage to Finn’s inspirations to create a modern-day Rear Window. I get that some reviewers chastise this for not being “original” but what is original anymore? Someone is always borrowing from something else that inspired them. You give credit where it’s due and create something new within that framework. I feel like this book is a giant love letter to all the classics that inspired the author, and in the process, he’s created something fun and fast-paced that gave me lady-wood.
I’m not even going to mention Girl on the Train or any other newer release that this might be linked to it because it reads like film noir. It reads like a classic black-and-white film and that’s what it should be compared to.
That’s also why I went for the classic Copycat and MadTV skit references. Those are my inspirations. I’m classy and evolved.
All the stars for The Woman in the Window. I loved it and I’m not sorry!
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 neighbours.
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.
Update: A.J. Finn has been outed as an alleged liar and weirdo who faked his parents death and having cancer, among other things. If you’re the kind of reader who likes the authors they spend their money and time on to be of good moral character, I advise finding a different book to read.