THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A. J. Finn is a brilliant tour-de-force thriller, dripping with tension, that pefectly captures the mental and emotional acrobatics of someone on the cusp of madness – in this case, the novel’s wildly unreliable narrator Anna Fox.
Suffering from PTSD and agoraphobia due to a tragic incident, Anna finds herself essentially a prisoner in her own home, unable to venture outside the restored 19th century (1884) four-story residence she and her husband had so lovingly restored. Anna’s husband and daughter have left, and she is all alone – except for the odd tenant, David, who’s living in the maisonette aka basement of her home.
Confined within the walls of the dark, lifeless building, Anna tries to find things to do to stave off the loneliness and boredom. She plays chess remotely with partners, interacts in an online community of fellow agoraphobics, takes photos, watches old Hitchcock movies, and spies on her neighbors – ala the Jimmy Stewart character in the film Rear Window. And she’s taking prescription medication for depression and anxiety rather erratically and irrresponsibly and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol as well.
In an ingenious homage to Rear Window, one night Anna looks out a window and sees what appears to be a murder being committed inside the home of a neighbor. But no one, including the police, will believe her. Anna’s uncertain of exactly what she saw or whom she can trust, including herself. But she can’t leave the house, and dark passions that could spiral into madness or murder are lurking in every corner…
A. J. Finn’s writing is masterful, thrusting us deeply and authentically into a world of loneliness, heartbreak, depression, the threat of madness, and abject terror.
Anna is a magnetic, compelling character who functions as an unreliable narrator par excellence, death-defyingly walking a tightrope between truth, delusion, and madness. And while Anna is desperately trying to look out at the world, she ends up looking deeply within.
The story is rich and complex, layered with twists and surprise revelations, and the film references are integrated cleverly and seamlessly.
A scintillating page turner that burrows inexorably into the mind, heart, and soul. Don’t miss this one.
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