The Woman in the Window is entertaining right from the start. I was hooked in the first chapter and could not put the book down once I started. Short chapters add to the quick storyline of a woman struggling with alcohol addiction and watching her neighbors through her windows.
Anna suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of going outside. So, she drinks too much wine throughout the day and watches her neighbors from the confines of her home outside of NYC. There are the Miller’s, the Wasserman’s, the Gray’s, the Takeda’s, and the newest addition to the neighborhood, the Russell’s. Anna has limited direct contact with the outside world. Normally, she only interacts with David, her tenant, Bina, her physical therapist, and Dr. Fielding, her psychologist. Food and wine are delivered to her front door. She speaks daily with her estranged husband, Ed, and daughter Olivia. She finds company in online agoraphobia chat groups and online chess matches. However, when a few teenagers throw eggs at Anna’s door on Halloween, she tries to chase them away, but suffers a panic attack right on her front step. Her new neighbor, Jane Russell, comes to her rescue, opening a doorway to a new friendship. Days later, Anna finds herself watching the Russell’s through her window and witnesses a horrible crime. Jane is stabbed! Was she just seeing things? Did she drink too much or watch too many Hitchcock movies? It becomes much more confusing for Anna after she calls the police and they have the Russell’s come over, including Jane Russell, proving to the police and her neighbors that she is losing her mind. Or is she? Her obsession with the Russell family spirals out of control, along with her drinking and conversations with those around her. Is she losing a grip on reality? Or is there a massive coverup going on?
This novel is similar to the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart. The damaged loner confined to home who watches their neighbors through their window. Both even use camera lenses to zoom in on the neighbors. They witness what appears to be a crime and have difficulty proving it. The main characters in both obsess over what they saw, but only end up convincing the police that they are losing their minds from being cooped up in their homes for so long. In the end, the accused neighbor comes to the main character’s home, where there is a struggle and physical confrontation. During the confrontation, all is revealed, and the authorities arrive to seal the deal and pull out a confession. Therefore, I would disagree with the great Stephen King when he says that this book is “…Totally Original.” However, I would say that The Woman in the Window is a fresh take on a classic. Even though The Woman in the Window parallels Rear Window closely, A.J. Finn finds away to keep the story fresh and hypnotic. As I said before, the short chapters make it easy for the reader to move quickly through this book, as well as easy to say, “Just one more chapter and I’ll go to bed.” The language is straightforward, and the dialogue is pragmatic. The characters are well developed and relatable. There is little to no downtime in this story and plenty of clues along the way that make the reader think why didn’t I pick that up at the end of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great who-done-it. It can be read in a weekend if you have the time. Just beware that once you start this book, you are not going to want to put it down.