Book Club: The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
There was so much hype around this book as it recalled a similar theme to the classic Hitchcock film, The Rear Window, but with a nod to one of my favorite books as well, Girl on the Train. That is obviously a big statement to make so I knew I had to check out this book for myself.
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 neighbors.
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.
Related post: Book Club: Into the Water
Ok, so you know how oftentimes when something is overhyped and you read it, it ends up being a disappointment? This is not one of those times. This book was amazing and well-written! It had me guessing right until the very end!
Like Rear Window, the book starts with a similar setup - an agoraphobic psychologist, Anna Fox, spies on her new neighbors who moved in and witnesses a crime. Similar to Girl on the Train, Anna is an alcoholic and on medication (that shouldn’t really mix with alcohol in the first place) and suffers a case of mistaken identity. If that sounds like there’s a lot going on, you’re right. But let me assure you, it’s never overwhelming and the plot moves along smoothly.
Once the plot is established, Finn gets to work establishing everything else - Anna’s backstory, where the Russell family comes from. It all seems ordinary until you realize that the more you find out about Anna, the less you can trust her narration. You can’t really trust her memories or even some of the things she says to her neighbors. When the police get involved, they don’t trust her word either as they see how much alcohol and prescription medications she’s on. You guys see where I’m going with this, right?
Related post: Book Club: Sharp Objects and A Simple Favor
I seriously did not see the big reveal coming about two-thirds of the way into this book. In fact, I didn’t see the end coming either - it was a complete surprise and I’m pretty good at figuring out whodunnit when reading thrillers (just because I read so many).
That said, my blogger friend and reading pal, Alix from A Pint Sized Life (you guys should really check out her blog, by the way) told me about A.J. Finn’s “history,” I was shocked. The New Yorker did a great piece about it but essentially Dan Mallory (A.J. Finn is his pen name) is a scam artist who lied about his mother’s illnesses, lied about his credentials, lied about his health (claimed he was diagnosed with brain cancer), lied about his brother’s death, and lied about so many other things, I just don’t have the time or space to write it all out here. I feel like talking about the writer’s deceptions is important to this review because as much as LOVED his book and thought the story was amazing, I have a hard time reconciling that with the fact that I think Mallory is an extremely shady character. I just want you guys to have all the facts before you make a decision to read it or not.