Originally published March 2018
So I wasn’t sure about reading “The Woman in the Window.”
I knew I needed something to distract from the day-to-day bullsnot that is cable news, and thrillers are usually a go-to for that. Easy to engage, keep you entertained, total mind candy. But a few pages in to A.J. Finn’s debut novel and I was thinking, “Is this just ‘The Girl on the Train‘ except inside her house? I don’t know …”
But there’s more to “Woman” than what first meets the eye — and it’s so well worth taking the time to dive in past the first 50 pages.
Sure, at first, I felt like Rachel had moved from the commuter train to a rowhouse in New York City, and changed her name to Anna. Tragic circumstances, to which readers aren’t readily privy to, have kept Anna, the former Dr. Fox, prominent child psychologist, locked inside for the better part of a year. The only thing that keeps her company is her love of fine wine, a penchant for old movies and the tendency to keep a close watch on all her neighbors through her window.
Like Rachel on her train, I struggled at first to find some empathy for Anna when she comes across as so damn self-destructive. Which is unfair because until mid-way through the novel, readers don’t truly understand the source or depth of Anna’s pain. (Perhaps more intuitive readers will pick up on the hints — I knew something was up.but wasn’t reading to guess that. I was more focused on the whodunit.) So, I had a hard time buying in to the story. But about a third of the way in, I became invested in Anna. You know she’s hurting, you know she’s kind, you just want her to feel better.
And you want to know who’s messing with her head. Like, really want to know. Ed? Ethan? David? Jane? Once you start reading, this is one of those books you’re likely to keep your nose in until you find out.
It’s interesting, the dichotomy — Anna’s relentless pursuit of a truth outside her home, while remaining painfully closed off from the most intimate truths that if confronted, may allow her to heal. What’s denial on its face — giving more credence to everyone else’s lives while ignoring her own personal SOS, ends up being so much more than that. For Anna, her voyeuristic hobby unwittingly becomes the path she needs to travel to release her from her self-imposed prison.
Perfect for Spring Break, a long weekend or any time you find yourself with a chunk of time that’ll allow you to just curl up Hygge style.
Author’s note: This review was written prior to Dan Mallory’s outing as a pretty good liar. So, read the book at your own peril.