The Woman in the Window
by A. J. Finn
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Pub Date 02 Jan 2018 | Archive Date 23 Feb 2018
HarperCollins Publishers Australia, HarperCollins
OVER 2 MILLION COPIES SOLD!THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
What did she see?
It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
‘Astounding. Thrilling. Amazing’ Gillian Flynn
‘One of those rare books that really is unputdownable’ Stephen King
‘Twisted to the power of max’ Val McDermid
‘A dark, twisty confection’ Ruth Ware
‘An incredible debut. I loved it… a brilliant page turner’ Jane Harper, author of The Dry
‘Astounding. Thrilling. Lovely and amazing. I could weave in more superlatives but you get the idea. Finn has created a noir for the new millennium, packed with mesmerizing characters, stunning twists, beautiful writing and a narrator with whom I'd love to split a bottle of pinot. Maybe two bottles — I’ve got a lot of questions for her.’
― #1 New York Times bestselling author Gillian Flynn
‘A truly phenomenal debut. A taut, utterly compelling story. Smart, heart-wrenching — and really scary.’
― Internationally bestselling author Nicci French
‘The Woman in the Window is the most riveting thriller I’ve read since Gone Girl. A. J. Finn is a bold new talent with the touch of a master.’
― New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen
‘The Woman in the Window is a tour de force. A twisting, twisted odyssey inside one woman’s mind, her illusions, delusions, reality. It left my own mind reeling and my heart pounding. An absolutely gripping thriller.’
― #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny
‘Twisted to the power of max. Hitchcockian suspense with a 21st century twist.’
― Bestselling author Val McDermid
‘Dense, brilliant and unforgettable; tight in focus, widescreen in execution’
― New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan
‘The Woman in the Window reads like a classic Hitchcock movie in novel form, in fact I was half expecting a cameo. Dripping with suspense. Creaking with menace. Beautifully written. There’s a lot of buzz around this book and every single bit of it is totally justified.’
― Simon Toyne, bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy
‘This is a wonderfully dark, elegant thriller, evocative of Hitchcock and classic noir. Tense, twisty and SO beautifully written. Amidst the many twists and turns, which are rolled out to perfection, the descriptions of Anna’s dusty, gothic townhouse create a nail-shreddingly claustrophobic atmosphere. And Anna herself is a gift of an unreliable narrator — agoraphobic, alcoholic, by turns tragic and spiky. An absolute one-sitting read.’
― C. J. Tudor, author of the forthcoming thriller The Chalk Man
‘Amazing. What an elegant, beautifully written thriller. I loved Dr. Fox from the word go, and the twists and turns were just exquisite. It’s so rare to find a story so compelling, yet so gracefully told — the flair and class of Hitchcock on every page. It’s quite a cliché, but I was genuinely walking around the house/answering the door/eating my meals with the book in my hand.’
― Joanna Cannon, internationally bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
‘There hasn’t been a debut thriller this good since Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan appeared twenty-five years ago.
The Woman in the Window is compelling, wrenching, and gasp-for-breath exciting —I was blown away.’
― #1 New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill
‘Hitchcock himself would have been proud. Masterfully uncomfortable reading that had me racing to the end for relief.’
― Helen Fields, bestselling author of Perfect Remains
Average rating from 28 members
There are three things I expect from a good psychological thriller: 1) it needs to mess with my mind; 2) it needs to mess with my mind; and 3) it needs to MESS WITH MY MIND! The Woman in the Window delivered that in spades, constantly making me question what was going on. Anna really is the perfect protagonist for a psychological thriller. Afflicted with a mental illness that makes her confined to her house, she is also taking a cocktail of heavy psychotropic drugs she washes down with copious amounts of alcohol. How could she possibly be a reliable narrator? I love nothing more than a protagonist I can sympathise with but one whose perception of reality I need to question constantly. Has Anna really witnessed a crime, or is she simply hallucinating? Truth or lie, reality or fabrication - the images swirled together in a crazy caleidoscope of unanswered questions that made me feel like I had indulged in a few of Anna's medications myself! At times the story drove me crazy with wanting to know if my hunches were right, and made me read until the early morning hours until I finally got my answers. Just a word of advice: pick up this book with plenty of time to spare, or you will suffer sleep deprivation!
Apart from an exquisitely unreliable narrator, there is the writing – oh, how I loved the writing! It is no accident that Anna is a lover of black and white Hitchcockian movies, because the story followed very much along those lines. Here we have a claustrophobic setting, a disturbed main protagonist and several suspects who might or might not pose a danger to Anna. The whole setting features a mere block of houses, and stars only a small cast of characters, but this story packs a punch! Have I mentioned that it messed with my mind? A few die-hard psychological thriller fans may guess some elements of the plot (as I did), but don't despair, there are plenty of other surprises in store. Also be aware that the book starts of slowly, cleverly setting the scene, which is essential for the plot to work. Soon you will be caught up like a spider in its web, suspecting each and every character, even Anna herself!
I am happy to end 2017 with a book that was one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a long time. To say I loved it is an understatement. It was EXACTLY what I look for in a psychological thriller, containing all the right elements and presenting them in a way that was simply irresistible. Sometimes you know after a mere few pages that the book is going to work for you – the writing style, the voice, the characters. I am very happy I stumbled across this gem on Netgalley – what a fitting finale to my 2017 reading journey.
I very much recommend The Woman in the Window to all lovers of the genre – let its black-and-white kaleidoscope of secrets seduce and confuse you.
For the last 10 months Anna Fox has become a recluse in her own home.
She has her food, medications and most importantly... wine delivered. She previously worked as a child psychologist but now she spends her days advising on an agoraphobia forum called ‘Agora’, playing online chess and watching old black and white movies.
Right from the beginning there are hints afloat. We know that Anna likes to watch her neighbours, she drinks a bit too much and mixes her medications. She also has a husband called Ed and daughter called Olivia.
I must admit for the first half of the book I really wasn’t sure of the direction the story was going to take me. Once Anna has witnessed the ‘incident’ with her neighbour Jane, the story just rocketed along. I silently cheered her on as she tried to grasp the idea of what she saw and work out what happened to Jane....or was she going mad.
With a time frame over 3 weeks, the short sharp chapters made for easy reading and especially a case of ‘one more chapter’ became evident for me. I really enjoyed this book and it certainly kept me guessing, right to the very end.
Anna Fox suffers from Agoraphobia, a condition which essentially means she can't leave the confines of her home without suffering a sever panic attack or dose of anxiety. The traumatic event which crippled Anna is a mystery that slowly unravels in spectacular fashion as the novel progresses. To pass time, she watches (spies on) her neighbors, often making up stories to accompany their comings and goings, between this, online chess, and watching black and white film noir, she spends her time online counselling her fellow sufferers on message boards/forums. It's a unique existence she's managed to eek out from the ashes of her former life and one that's largely kept her sane. Until she witnesses a murder across the street.
The Woman in the Window is subtle suspense with ever lurking danger omnipresent; it's a case of reading and waiting for the sand to run out. Anna's life on the surface is normal within context, however the picture soon looks fractured; the pieces don't fit the puzzle. When the murder and her own personal trauma collide, the result is plotting perfected.
Anna for her part is an interesting character who has flaws but is still endearing. Author A.J. Finn makes her pop off the page and read 'real'. Her home, integral to the story, reads as a character in its own right and provides the reader a well defined imagery of Anna's world and those that frequent it - invited and un alike.
My rating: 4/5 stars. This is a great book for those who enjoy character centric novels and has the added bonus of paying homage to classic film noir.
This is an incredibly scary thriller that had my heart racing!
A woman, Anna Fox, a psychologist with a PhD, suffers from acrophobia and hasn’t left her house for over 10 months. Her tale is sad and her condition isn’t helped by her excessive drinking of Merlot in combination with a range of medications. She is the narrator of this terrifying story that has many twists and turns that the reader becomes as dizzy and overwhelmed as her. Is she really deluded??? Yes and No and Maybe are all correct. Her ordinary neighbourhood takes on the feel of the black and white horror films directed by Hitchcock that she is constantly watching - is what is happening a movie or real life?
I was spell bound by this novel. Slowly, bit by bit, the story unfolds and we are drip fed tit bits of information that helps us to understand what is going on; and just when you think you’ve got it..... you haven’t!!!
A great read and highly recommended.
This was an anxiety driven psychological thriller which had me holding my breath at times. The main character, Anna Fox suffered from a major trauma 10 months previously and as a result has become agoraphobic and unable to leave her house. She is separated from her husband and child and is not coping well, drinking too much and not keeping tabs on what drugs she has taken. Her physiotherapist and psychiatrist come to see her at home and she can longer go out to work as a child psychiatrist. Instead she plays online chess, learns French online and participates in giving advice on an online website for agoraphobics. She also loves to watch old black and white movies particularly those directed by Hitchcock as alluded to by the cover and title of the book. She also likes to watch her neighbours and her own life takes on a Hitchcockian flavour when she sees a violent crime committed through her window.
With Anna as an unreliable narrator through drinking way too much and unable to leave her house it’s difficult for her to get the police to believe that a crime occurred and she begins to question herself. Strange things continue to happen to Anna and she begins to wonder who she can trust. I felt the suspense lost a little bit of momentum in the middle of the novel but the fear and tension ramped up towards the end and the final twist in the ending was unexpected (at least by this reader). I can definitely see this as a dark and suspenseful Hitchcock black and white movie.
A fantastic psychological thriller that kept me up late reading into the night! A little slow to start with however the story picked up fairly quickly and had me gripped. I can see this story being turned into a movie. Cannot wait to read more by this author!
I loved this book. It was the type of psychological thriller I enjoy. I loved the way the characters were introduced, and the way Anna Fox and her life was described. Anna was watching her neighbors and her neighbors were watching her. Anna Fox lives alone in a large multi-storied house. A lodger lives in the self-contained basement. Anna has agoraphobia and has not left her house in 10 months. She also has other mental health issues and takes multiple medications mixed liberally with lots of wine. Anna spends her time watching her neighbors, watching old movies, learning French, playing chess online and contributing to an online forum for people with agoraphobia. Anna is convinced that she saw her neighbor being murdered but the police do not believe her. They think she was hallucinating.
A page turning mystery with so many twists my brain was firing way more than usual! I loved the characters and found them quite believable and relate-able. I will definitely recommend this book to all my book loving friends!
The Woman in the Window is the best psychological thriller I have read in quite some time. It will have you hooked from page one. The characters are intriguing, the plot is enticing and the writing is completely gripping. This is sure to be THE novel of 2018. Highly recommended to all readers who enjoy psychological thrillers. Looking forward to reading more from Finn.
“I press the camera to my eye and zoom in: the ’Today’ show. I might head down and switch on my own TV, I muse, watch alongside my neighbour. Or I might view it right here, on his set, through the lens. I decide to do that.”
Child psychologist Dr Anna Fox, 38, has been housebound for the better part of a year with agoraphobia - a fear of open spaces, the great outdoors, or the ‘public square’, (the meaning of the Greek word ‘agora’.) Many things can cause or trigger it, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which we are led to believe may be her problem. She’s counselled some pretty troubled kids, after all.
She sees a nice Dr Fielding regularly (house calls, obviously) and promises she’s being a good girl, taking her drugs (“meds” he keeps correcting her), and not drinking . . . much.
We know better.
“‘These pills,’ he says, ‘are not to be taken with alcohol.’ In the kitchen, I chase the pills with merlot. I understand Dr. Fielding’s concern, I do; I recognize that alcohol is a depressant, and as such, ill-suited to a depressive. I get it. I’ve written about it—”
She doesn’t just chase them with alcohol, she pretty much lives on merlot (a lovely red wine I can recommend, med-free). She binges on merlot and wonderful old black and white movies - mysteries, like ‘Vertigo’, ‘Rear Window‘, ‘Gaslight’, Bogart and Bacall. Great scary stuff.
She drinks and drugs herself to sleep and doesn’t wake until midday most days, clearly unstable. Except for the young man renting the basement, she’s home alone, missing her husband and daughter. She finds comfort in conversations with them and also with her ‘clients’ in an online agoraphobia forum where she ‘counsels’ them as “thedoctorisin”.
When the police visit her after she has frantically reported seeing something terrible happen in the house of a family who’s just moved in, she can’t get a straight word out from them nor they from her. She’s recovering from a panic attack, so the detective approaches her carefully, eyeing the coffee table.
‘All this yours?’ he asks, inspecting the wine bottles. ‘Nice merlot.’
I shift in my seat. I feel like a naughty child.
‘Yes,’ I admit. ‘But …’
It looks worse than it is? It’s actually worse than it looks?
The latter, no question.
The story wends its way back and forth through her early marriage, before her PTSD, into the more recent past and up to today, when she’s such a lost, emotional wreck. Intellectually, she understands her condition, but her heart is not ruled by her head, and she is still terrified to leave the house.
“I can’t move. I can feel the outside trying to get in—. . . It’s swelling against the door, bulging its muscles, battering the wood; I hear its breath, its nostrils steaming, its teeth grinding. It will trample me; it will tear me; it will devour me.”
She’s fighting a losing battle to be believed by anyone, what with her predilection for replaying black and white thrillers continuously, sometimes drunkenly sleeping through them while full of who-knows-how-many pills she’s remembered to take.
Dr Fielding calls, worried, and as they chat about her meds and next Tuesday’s appointment, she gets ready for her evening.
“I twist the cap off the bottle.
‘And you’re sure you’re feeling all right?’
‘Completely.’ I fetch a glass from the sink.
‘You’re not mixing with alcohol?’
‘Good. Well, I’ll see you then.’
‘See you then.’ The line goes dead, and I sip.
I’ve concentrated on the alcohol (and meds), because that’s what she’s concentrated on. So have the police and the neighbours. She’s unravelling badly, faces breaking down, and now gets frightened even at home.
“I step into the hall—the one area of the house I dislike and distrust, the cool gray zone between my realm and the outside world. Right now it’s dim in the dusk, the dark walls like hands about to clap me between them.”
It’s not looking good for the once-good doctor, and Finn scares both us and her out of what’s left of her wits before he brings it all to a masterful and unexpected conclusion.
You may possibly be right with a few things you guess along the way, but only because he has led you there. Don’t get complacent. I doubt you’ll figure it all out.
Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for the copy for review from which I’ve quoted.
Dr Anna Fox is a doctor currently without a practice but there are always people, others like herself, whom she can still help even whilst confined to her New York home. Without her much loved husband and daughter, there are too many hours in the day that Anna finds she needs to fill with small human interactions, elsewise the pills and wine will step up and do that for her. There is the gorgeous downstairs lodger, the online forums where she counsels other agoraphobics, her physiotherapist, her ex business partner, the myriad of delivery people who bring her food and other supplies. It has been a very long time since Anna has been able to put foot outside her own door. But this does not mean that she does not observe life outside.
The mix of small common encounters that make up family life are all close by and on constant display for Anna to watch unseen from her own upper windows. These domestic vignettes, observed via her camera lens or at most times just by Anna’s naked eye are always absorbing, so it is especially interesting when a new family move in over the road. Meeting a new neighbour is a treat and the lovely Jane Russell kindly stays with Anna for the afternoon on a day that she especially needs the company. The days do tend to blur though when you spend your hours taking your medication incorrectly with alcohol. When Anna sees her neighbour stabbed and pleading for help from behind the glass of the townhouse opposite, it is not an easy task for Anna to get anyone to listen. Anna is a witness to a killing, but no one is taking her story seriously.
Reserve yourself a little time and settle in as this engaging novel will be a one or two sitting read. Anna, despite all she has experienced, is immensely relatable and a warm narrator to listen to. There is no shame, there is only the present and the need for Anna to get herself through one day and then through the next. It is very easy to see only a few pages in why THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW was a monster hit straight out of the gates. Immersive, introspective and warm, this read totally wraps you up in the four walls of Anna’s townhouse as her growing concerns about the neighbours become yours.
Brace yourself for the huge jump scare at chapter’s end in the final quarter of the novel - I promise you will be leaping out of your seat! (Tip: Do not read this book on public transport).
Author A.J. Finn (was quite surprised to find this was a male author) does an excellent job in building up both tension and our worries for Anna’s welfare, an obviously intelligent character who is coping the best way she can with loss and mental illness.
I read this novel in a different format and was very impressed by the twists and turns of the story, and the compelling characters. Thrillers aren't my usual beat, but this had everything that anyone who's ever loved Hitchcock at his best would ever want.
Well, this book surprised me. The hype surrounding this book is massive, and I had been hearing about it left right and centre. Usually that can sometimes scare me off a book, but in this case, and because I was in the mood for a good page turning thriller, I was eager to read this! And I wasn't disappointed. About a third of the way in I very much understood the comparisons to "Girl on the Train" and "Gone Girl", which was fine, if not slightly overly familiar. But from about halfway in when things started happening that I HAD'NT guessed or semi-guessed already, I was totally immersed! This book kept me up all hours - partly because I couldn't stop reading, and partly because it freaked me out and I could barely sleep. Talk about creepy, this book had that in spades! And that left me thinking I had just read an EXCELLENT new thriller.
This is a brilliantly written thriller full of twists and turns, which leaves you questioning the main characters mental state the entire time. The short chapters made it easy to tell yourself, Ill just read one more chapter, ok maybe just one more! It was very hard to put down I really enjoyed this book and give it top marks 5/5 stars.
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