The Woman at the Window

"I would put a bet on it being one of the best-selling books of 2018."


It has 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 is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russell’s 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. When she reports the matter to the police, they can see Anna is not a well woman, a woman who drinks too much red wine, mixes alcohol with a ton of prescription medicines and watches far too many Noir films of decades past. Did she really see a crime being committed… or is it all in her head?

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There is something very personal in the way Finn describes Anna’s life, locked alone in her large New York home. She has rented out the basement to her house, but even he is an enigma to her. There is no one she can turn to. It is this feeling of loneliness, of being a step outside with the rest of the world that Finn nails down to perfection. There were parts of Finn’s prose that struck a chord with me, making Anna’s plight, not just with the central crime, but with her daily struggle with life, all the more unbearable. At times I did feel as though I was the one looking in through a window, watching Anna slowly disintegrate, which at times could be uncomfortable. Finn’s novel is littered with references to Noir classics from the 40’s and 50’s. Classic films such as ‘Vertigo’ and ‘The Thin Man’ all lend to the atmosphere of Anna’s plight, that feeling of being closed in, the walls of Anna’s house slowly moving, leaning in on her creating a sense of claustrophobia to go with Anna’s agoraphobia. It also raises the question as to whether what Anna is reporting is true or has her escape in to the world of film begun to bleed out and colour reality? There will, of course, be the usual references to ‘Rear Window’ which many of us love. Anna’s decline is quite heart-breaking when revealed, but Finn leaves us on the up, with fresh beginnings. I can’t really say much about the plot, as any reference would give it away, so I will say that for me, the buzz around this book is justified. The short chapters and staccato language propelled me through this gripping novel. ‘The Woman in the Window’ is a very strong and assured debut. I would put a bet on it being one of the best-selling books of 2018.

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