Book Club: The Woman In The Window

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Author: A.J. Finn
ISBN: 9780008234164
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Harper Collins
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

The Woman In The Window is taut and twisted with interesting premises and a huge nod to the gritty black and white suspense films of a bygone era.


I read an uncorrected proof of The Woman In The Window so I didn’t have the back of the book blurb and I’m so far behind that I didn’t read the media release that came with it. I know there’s a lot of hype around this release but it’s not something I heard much about because I’ve been a little sheltered trying to get other stuff sorted. All things considered I went in pretty much blind, which I often do and I think can be a good thing. I have heard it likened to Girl on a Train and Gone Girl, neither of which I have read – or watched for that matter.

There’s been a lot going on around me so I haven’t had a great deal of time to focus on reading, I also found it took me quite a while to really get invested here and I’m not sure if the two are related. When I did get invested though, I didn’t want to put the book down. There was a lot I had on my list for tonight but I kept finding myself pulled back to the book.

Dr Anna Fox is an unreliable narrator whose agoraphobia has her trapped inside her house, she hasn’t been outside in ten months and things aren’t looking like changing any time soon. We don’t know why she’s agoraphobic, just that it’s PTSD related and started almost a year ago. She is a child psychologist, separated from her family and heavily (self)medicated.

Unreliable witnesses seem to be a popular tool in suspense story-telling at the moment because the reader is left wondering what to believe.

Dr Fox likes to watch the outside world through her windows, and the lens of her camera. She knows all about her neighbours as she watches them from afar though many of them wouldn’t know who she was. She is in a great period of time to be agoraphobic really because technology means that you don’t have to be out of touch and you can do pretty much everything you need to from home. Online shopping, online pharmacists, online gaming and then the internet brings people as close as you want them. Dr Fox spends a lot of time in an online chat forum for sufferers of agoraphobia and she relies on her formal training to help where she can.

This is a suspense story with Dr Fox painted as an unreliable witness from early on so it will be tricky to work out what to say without saying too much. She is a complex character with a lot going on, much of which we slowly get a handle on as the story unfolds. The love she has of old black and white movies is something we learn early on and it’s something that reflects on the story unfolding in her life. Is that part of the argument painting her as an unreliable witness or is it coincidental? There is quite a lot of reference to the classics she is watching and also some direct quotes.

I really don’t know what to say about the story without risking the suspense so I will just stick to my thoughts and reactions to the book.

It’s been a couple of days since I finished the book and that is never a good thing, trying to picture it now and I get a visual in my head which is very much the gritty film noir atmosphere of the movies Dr Fox loves. Looking at the story as a whole there aren’t very many characters because how many people does an agoraphobe actually come in contact with.

Dr Fox is well drawn but she’s not clearly drawn because otherwise it would be difficult to find her questionable later. We get to know her well; no it’s more that we get to study her movements closely but a lot is left hazy so that her unreliability remains intact. We see all of her neighbours though we only meet a few of them, and her tenant comes into focus slowly.

I was drawn into the drama, the tension and the suspense. There were a lot of twists, and of course some dead ends, and usually I am pretty good at predicting what’s to come but I couldn’t get a handle on this one, I found it difficult to predict and I like that.

The Woman in the Window is the debut novel of A.J. Finn and it has been widely acquired for release, and film rights. I would be interested to see how it translates to the screen because it is such an atmospheric piece.

I gave it 4 stars because I really enjoyed the read, it was suspenseful and the heroine was intriguing. Dr Fox seems to be at her weakest, she’s shut in and self medicated so her limitations are many but she’s still intelligent and when it come right down to it she is still very determined and resourceful. This is very much a story that calls on the convenience provided by the internet age and it was well utilised. I didn’t have the hype to build it up for me before I started so I went in with no expectations and I think that can be a good thing.

A.J. Finn can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Woman in the Window is published by Harper Collins and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harper Collins 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Woman in the Window so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

 

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21 thoughts on “Book Club: The Woman In The Window

  1. A.J. Finn’s novel, The Woman In The Window @harpercollins is a well-written, chills down your spine, psychological thriller. It is of the same type of genre as many of the black and white movies that are heavily referenced throughout the novel, eg Gaslight and Vertigo and particularly Hitchcock’s voyeuristic thriller Rear Window.

    Just as in Hitchcock’s famous movie, the main character, housebound Dr Anna Fox, looks through her window and witnesses what she thinks is a crime. And just like in that, and more modern movies of the same style, such as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, there is the same eerie questioning of reality. Did it really happen? Can the witness’s account be trusted? Is she hallucinating ? Or is she just vying for attention?

    Dr Anna spends most of her days drinking too many bottles of Merlot whilst also taking strong medication for the anxiety, depression and agoraphobia from which she suffers, so it would be no surprise if she is hallucinating. But is she? She also likes to spy on her neighbours, zooming in on their activities with her camera. And seems to have taken an unnaturally obsessive interest in the Russell family who have just moved into the house on the other side of the park.

    It is soon clear that something devastating has happened to Dr Anna Fox. It is something traumatic enough to have turned a highly successful child psychiatrist into a reclusive drunk who cannot venture out of her big, empty house. When not peering out of her window tracking her neighbours lives, Dr Anna spends her time talking to her estranged husband and daughter on the phone, playing chess and chatting on online forums. It is clear she is very lonely, bored and miserable. And her depressive emotional state is described very well. The key question of the story though, is whether she has become so unhinged that she has made up a story about her new neighbours, pretending she has witnessed a crime.

    An entertaining read, and while the actual outcome is somewhat predictable, I found the more compelling pull in the story is the gradual unravelling of just what did happen to Dr Anna Fox, and how she has coped.

  2. Thankyou to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read The Woman in The Window by A J Finn.
    I found once I started this book I could not put it down.

    Anna Fox, the central character, is suffering from post Traumatic Stress Disorder with agoraphobia and panic attacks. Ten months prior she was Dr Anna Fox, a respected children’s psychologist living with her husband and daughter. Now she lives by herself, her world is inside her home. Spending her time watching vintage suspense movies, on line chats, her cat and watching her neighbours through the windows in her town house.

    Anna takes an interest in a new family that has just moved into the house across the park. While spying on them she witnesses a crime in their living room. Well, she thinks she witnessed it. She is drinking too much and taking a large number of prescription drugs, known to cause hallucinations.
    The police don’t believe her.

    The book takes you on a suspenseful journey to discover what has happened in Anna’s life to cause the PTSD. And a suspenseful journey to discover did anything really happen in that living room across the park.
    Just when you think you have it all worked out, their is another twist!
    An excellent read, fully understand why the book is being made into a movie!

  3. A psychological thriller that I found a little slow and confusing to start off with but wow once I got into the story I couldn’t put it down.

    Agoraphobic Dr. Anna Fox, former child psychologist who is separated from her husband and daughter hasn’t been outside in over a year. She has her groceries and prescriptions delivered and watches old black and white movies to fill in her day. She takes a lot of medication including anti-depressants with a lot of alcohol and is often hungover in the mornings. Anna, aside from watching black and white movies enjoys watching what goes on outside of her windows with her high zoom camera; despite the windows being closed and never opened. Her neighbours lives provide her with daily entertainment and she knows the comings and goings of the neighbourhood.

    One day while Anna is doing her usual neighbourhood spying she sees a crime being committed. This is where the book becomes really interesting. Anna’s life is turned upside down. She calls the police but they don’t believe her as they think Anna is a drunk who imagined the whole thing. Nothing is as it seems though………

    “The Woman in the Window” is definitely worth a read and do persevere with the beginning. You really become invested in Anna’s quest and I just HAD to know what happened.

    Thanks Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins.
    3/5

  4. Absolutely riveting from start to finish!!!Loved the story was really a fascinating read!! I loved how we get to know the main characters story in bits and pieces just as if her story was being told to her psychologist. The story never got boring was fast paced and loved the twist at the end. I was really not expecting it!!! I thought the story was all wrapped up neatly and coming to a conclusion and was a delightful surprising wicked twist!
    The story keeps you guessing through out and every little reveal is like opening another window into Anna’s world. You start to wonder if anything shes narrating is real considering so much of the information she starts with is not the full truth and this means the “gaslight” effect happens not just on Anna but on the reader as well!!

  5. Wow! What a great book! I loved it!

    The story just drew me in from the first page. Instantly I liked Anna and throughout the book, revealing her different issues I found myself wanting to help and protect her, I felt her desperation.

    Everyone has natural curiosity about others lives that’s why I think this novel drew me in. No one likes to admit it but with Facebook and Instagram etc we are all somewhat Peeping Tom’s in others lives.  Anna was a people watcher but also a protector, she tried to help others even when she needed so much help herself.

    It was fast paced and I loved the short but sharp chapters, it kept you wanting more! It was probably on the longer side for a thriller but you definately didn’t feel this when reading. You really need to clear the schedule for this one as you won’t want to put it down!

    And a debut novel, I can’t wait to see more from Finn!

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for a chance to review this fantastic book!

  6. Dr Anna Fox suffers from severe agoraphobia, as well as anxiety and depression, and she hasn’t left her home for ten months.
    Haunted by the memories that overtake her mind, she is simply too afraid to venture outside her front door.
    She spends her days chatting online in an agoraphobia support group, playing online chess, and looking out of her windows of her New York City home.
    She also spends her days drinking, and taking more medication than has been prescribed to her, in order to try and drown out the circumstances that lead to the onset of her fears and extreme anxiety.
    One day, she notices that new neighbours shift in.
    Jane and Alistair Russell, with their teenage son Ethan, catch Anna’s attention immediately, and she is drawn to the similarities of their life to that which once resembled hers.
    One night whilst Anna is looking out of her window, she witnesses a tragic event that takes place at the Russell’s, and is desperate to uncover just what went on there that night.
    But can she trust that what she saw with her own eyes to be true, or is her imagination taking over, leaving doubts in her mind?
    Can Anna be believed given her mental and emotional state?

    This book had me so drawn into it, I read it for hours on end (even when I got sore eyes!) I simply had to know what was going to happen!
    At over 420 pages, it is a fairly long story but one filled with intrigue and highly suspenseful.
    Anna’s past is revealed in staggered stages, which added depth to the story, and reading about what caused Anna’s condition was definitely emotional.
    I think that A.J Finn has done a remarkable job in describing what an agorophobic person goes through, and the effect that the condition has on one’s life.
    I would definitely recommend this book, particularly for those that have read and enjoyed Gone Girl.

  7. This is a really impressive thriller. It’s got a credible lead character you’re going to believe in (although you might not always believe her), prose that drives the plot headlong, and twists aplenty to throw you off balance. It’s a little slow to start, but once it’s caught you, the story doesn’t let go.

    Although the novel consciously uses situations that most readers will recognise from movies or other novels, it remains fresh and surprising. Finn has paid homage rather than copying, and the result is a great book.

    After experiencing a severe trauma almost a year ago, Anna has become seriously agoraphobic. She is housebound. She’s lost her family, her friends, her career. She drinks too much. She broods too much.
    To fill her days, Anna watches her neighbours. The houses are close together and she can see a great deal, and the zoom lens on her camera helps her to see even more. She follows their book clubs, their children, their affairs. And then one night she sees her new neighbour, Jane Russell, being stabbed to death.

    But did she? She’s a drunk. She doesn’t take her medication reliably or properly. Another woman – very much alive – claims to be Jane Russell. No-one else saw or heard anything – or so they say. Do we believe Anna, or the weight of evidence against her word? But then again, there might also be evidence to support her…

    Anna is a very sympathetic character. You might not like her a lot – I didn’t – but you can understand how she got to her current state. Our understanding deepens as she reveals more about the trauma she endured. That deepening understanding also keeps us from believing her unreservedly, because her problems are also increasingly exposed.

    The plotting here is great – several twists that feel like they’ve blindsided you, although they’re completely credible given what’s gone before. The plot rattles along, but even thinking about it later and trying to pick holes, it’s tight knit and convincing.

    This is a great thriller which should be enjoyed by anyone who likes thrillers, strong characterisation, or a plot which strongly engages you in trying to work out exactly what’s happening. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  8. Firstly thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for letting me read this book.

    I really enjoyed The Woman in the Window by A.J Finn. It had me hooked for the first page and I struggled to put it down. It was easy to read and follow and had a great story line.

    Without giving too much away, the story is about Anna who is a agoraphobic. She spends all her time inside and watching the world around her. Anna witnesses an incident that occurs in her neighbours house. The story then unfolds and follows Anna trying to piece together her life and figure out what really happened on that night.

    There is twists and turns around every corner and it was great getting to know Anna and understand why she has become and agoraphobic something I didn’t predict.

    Once you start reading this book you will find it hard to put down. Would highly recommend this thriller.

  9. Thankkyou Harper Collins and Beautyandlace for the opportunity to review the debut novel ‘The Woman in the Window’ by A. J. Finn.
    This was a fantastic read and the housework was definitely put on hold while I was reading this.
    The book was like diary entries written by 38yearr old Anna Fox a trained child psychologist seperated from her husband Ed and daughter Olivia. She is suffering agoraphobia and is drinking too much alcohol which she is mixing with her prescription medication.
    She spys on her neighbours (because of being housebound), watches old movies and joins chat sessions online.
    She lets out her basement to David, also befriends Ethan Russell a teenager from one of the houses across the road, a house she has been spying on. She fears there has been foul play at his house and involves the police to investigate, but no-one believes her.

    Everything in the story is not what you think and I would conclude something only to find out that it wasn’t correct!
    The book was just so exciting and so unpredictable. I really enjoyed it. 5 stars from me!!!

  10. Only a quick review, otherwise…spoilers!!
    The story is fast paced, plenty of twist and turns and an overall quick, enjoyable read (even though 400 pages) and I will most likely still want to see the movie once it’s been released.
    Once able to sit and digest this book, the story is the same as we’ve read what seems like 100 times before and makes me want to re-read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for a fearless, strong female protagonist. Parts of the storyline were also somewhat predictable.

  11. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review this book. I absolutely loved The Woman in the Window a debut novel by A.J. Finn.

    The central character is Dr. Ann Fox a childrens psychologist, who now suffers from agoraphobia, traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression which she is taking medication for. Unfortunately she hasn’t left the house in ten months.

    She doesn’t go outside the front door and mostly spends her days drinking. She goes on online chats and watches suspense movies. She also spends time just sitting by the window looking at her neighbours.

    One day as she looks out the window she notices new neighbours move in. They are couple, Jane and Alister Russell and their son Ethan.

    One night she witnesses a crime while looking out the window. She calls the police but is not believed. The police put it down to her imagination.

    It was a great book and kept you guessing throughout. It is a great psychological thriller that won’t disappoint. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

  12. A wonderful, suspenseful read!

    If you loved Girl On A Train and Gone Girl, then you will love this new psychological thriller, The Woman In The Window. The main character is Dr Anna Fox, a successful child psychologist who witnesses what she believes to be a murder. After a traumatic event in her life, Anna is a housebound recluse so unfortunately for her, no one appears to believe her. As an unreliable witness who takes alcohol with her medication, did Anna really witness a murder? Is she of right mind? Why has nobody else reported the person involved as missing?

    The author, A J Finn has written a highly suspenseful and interesting novel that is very difficult to put down. Written with references to today’s world makes this story very modern. I was very absorbed in Anna’s character and had to keep reading to find out what would happen to her. Thank you very much Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this great book. I thoroughly recommend it and am now looking forward to seeing the movie!

  13. I thought I would go out on a limb when choosing the February book I would like to read. A psychological thriller is not usually something that piques my interest but I am glad to have tried a genre that is new to me.

    I found this to be an exciting, page turning novel with many minor stories complimenting the major plot. For a long time I wanted to understand what had happened to Anna, to understand why her life was turning out the way it was. Why she was obsessed with other peoples lives but couldn’t fix her own.

    The twists and turns in the plot added to the suspense and kept me interested, right until the end. I can see that this book would be perfect for a movie and if its anything like other notable psychological thrillers ie ‘Gone Girl’, this movie is going to be fantastic.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this book.

  14. I loved this book!!

    I was somewhat sceptical as I had heard it was hard to get into at first, but I didn’t think that way at all! I loved this books from the very start and found it very hard to put down.

    Dr Anna Fox is a sad character from the start and I felt so sorry for her battling her agoraphobia and PTSD. She really seemed to be having a hard time, especially with her constant self medicating and bottles of Merlot everyday.
    It was obvious that there was something seriously wrong from early on but I was still surprised with all the twists and turns.
    This book had me guessing the whole time, and even at the end when I thought I finally had it I didn’t!
    I honestly believe this will be one of the best thrillers for 2018, and I’m excited to see it as a movie, because I can totally understand why they chose it for a movie.
    Thankyou as always to Beauty and lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read and review this great book.

    I highly recommend and rate it 5 stars.

  15. The Woman In The Window , is a pshychological thriller by A.J. Finn. It is an amazing read that had me hooked right from the beginning. With short chapters and the fast paced story line , so much info, I did not want to put this book down.
    The main character Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist and is suffering from Agarophobia and PTSD. As a result she is trapped in her home and passes her time ‘watching’ her neighbours, through a camera lens, participating in an online chat forum for other agoraphobes she tries to help, using her training as a child psychologist. She also watches a lot of black and white movies, drinks a lot of wine and takes a lot of prescription medication.
    One night while ‘watching’ her neighbours, she witnesses an unbelievable crime, but getting anyone to believe her is a major problem. There is no proof and she is an unreliable witness because of her circumstances.
    She knows what she saw and is determined to do her own investigating and find out the truth. Along the way we find our more about Anna and why she is the way she is.
    The inclusion of red herrings and a couple of twists , in true thriller style make it all the more suspenseful.
    I thoroughly enjoyed The Woman In The Window, a great thriller that did not disappoint. I can’t wait to see it portrayed on the big screen.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to read and review this fantastic thriller.

  16. WOW !!!!!! Loved reading The Woman In The Window…….
    I love to read thrillers and this book is not disappoint. It had me hooked from the beginning,This was a very easy read because of the small chapters. I kept saying one more, one more chapter before i put it away.
    The story of Anna was a surprise to read. With all the twists and turns it kept me on my toes figuring out who was to blame, was it all in her mind and what was coming next. There was so much information to absorb before the real action happened.
    Boy, i did not see coming as to who was to blame for the mess in the end.
    This was a fantastic read and look forward to reading more from A.J.Finn.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book.

  17. A.J. Finn has used the tried and true unreliable narrator trope. However unlike Girl on the Train I did feel empathy for Anna. She had (I think) legitimate reasons for her alcoholism and pill popping PTSD.

    The reader is taken inside Anna’s world; those four walls and four floors of her Harlem home.
    Never have I been so fascinated by the hum drum lives of neighbours. Anna’s prying, watching her neighbours through a camera lens and googling really creeped me out. How our lives are laid bare, details floating around the web to piece together by whomever.

    Anna is by no means a recluse. She chats online to other agoraphobia suffers, is in a chess club and also has an online French tutor.

    She quickly becomes obsessed with the new family, the Russells, recently moved in across the park. A mirror image of her own, once perfect, family. Mum, Dad and one child. Her husband and daughter left months ago but she still talks to them regularly.

    One night Anna witnesses something horrific in the Russell home, something that cannot go unreported. However no-one believes her, claiming she is hallucinating due to the heavy cocktail of alcohol and drugs she is taking. More strange things happen which leave Anna questioning her own state of mind.

    The Woman in the Window is an ode to old black and white noir movies. Anna spent her days watching these movies over and over and quite often quotes from these movies crash into her waking hours replicating in her life.

    This is a book that will take over your mind, take over your life whilst you’re reading it. The writing is taut and atmospheric. I don’t think I’ve read a debut this chilling, this addictive.

    Content: implied sex (behind closed doors) minimal coarse language (ramps up a bit towards the end)

    5/5 stars

  18. The Woman in the Window, wow what can I say, I LOVED this book. It was suspenseful, interesting and attention grabbing from start to finish.

    A. J. Finn’s novel centres around the alcoholic, agoraphobic Dr Anna Fox, child psychologist who hasn’t left her New York city home in over 10 months. She’s estranged from her husband and young daughter but still speaks to them frequently.

    She passes the time by observing, photographing and sometimes inventing dialogue for her myriad of neighbours.

    It’s all innocent until a new family moves in across the park, the Russells. Their teenage son seems to connect with Dr Fox in a strange way. But all is not as it seems. Anna witnesses what she thinks is a brutal murder but because of her mental incapacties, nobody will take her seriously. Can she separate truth from fantasy before it’s too late?

    Deeply suspenseful, I felt like the writing style was a series of urgent telegrams, leaving me wanting more. And the Hitchcock/film noir references made it even more like an old school movie screenplay playing out.

    You can somewhat tell A.J Finn has a journalism background, his research, knowledge of the subject matter and succinct writing style are excellent and very polished. I can’t wait to see when this book is made into a movie, it’d be a Must See!

  19. I was intrigued to read The Woman In The Window. My book bestie wasn’t a fan and we have similar taste. So many others though, raved about it in their reviews. It’s also being made into a movie which is a good sign. So now that I’ve read it I can say that I did like it but for a debut novel The Woman In The Window had its flaws. The story line was well set up as I got to know the protagonist, Anna, with all her perceived issues and problems. Alcoholic, nosy neighbour, recluse, drug addict, divorcee….the list went on and on. However, despite its short, sharp chapters not a lot happened seemed to happen in the first half of the book. The second half is where I was left gasping as all my preconceived notions of Anna came crumbling down. From here the novel quickly picked up it’s paced and left me reeling as one event collided with another. I never saw what was coming but little clues were cleverly left in the characters conversations which often left me pondering. So the second half literally saved the book for me. If you enjoy psychological thrillers or are in need of something different, get through the first half of A.J Finn’s novel as the pay off is worth the wait.

  20. The woman in the window is the debut novel for A J Finn, and what a little cracker it is. The main character, Anna Fox, a 38 year old psychiatrist who lives alone since separating from her husband and daughter. Anna’s condition prevents her from leaving the house so she spends her days drinking merlot and spying on her neighbours through her camera zoom lens.

    Things start to unravel when, after one too many merlots and a mixture of pills, she witnesses something shocking, or does she??

    It’s an easy read with short, sharp and shiny chapters that move quickly. It keeps you turning the pages late into the night. The plot twists and turns numerous times and I didn’t see final twist.

    I can see this book as a movie. It should be good!! The book is good and it’s worth investing your time to read.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the read.

  21. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read the debut novel by A.J. Finn, The Women in the Window. Firstly I will admit I have not reached for a thriller as a 1st book choice for quite some time, but now I wonder what I may have been missing…I found the first few chapters difficult to feel involved in but soon I was enthralled by the character Anna Fox, her agoraphobia, her drug and alcohol dependency and the fact that she appears to live her life on-line and through the telescopic lens of her camera. But I was soon entwined in the twists and turns of the story through the somewhat unreliable and hazy eyes of Dr Anna Fox but unable to put it down..

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