The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn, author; Ann Marie Lee, narrator
This psychological thriller was written with a fine hand, using an exceptional choice of vocabulary to describe scenes and evoke images in superbly descriptive ways. The images will come alive in the mind of the reader because of the juxtaposition of words. No sentence is wasted and no description overdone. The narrator’s expression and emphasis evokes each scene and sets the stage perfectly for it to play out. She never becomes the story, but rather enhances the telling of it. I highly recommend it as an audiobook.
These are some of the things we know about the novel. We know that there is an agoraphobic woman, Dr. Anna Fox, who is a child psychologist. She has a husband named Ed and a young daughter called Olivia. We know that she has suffered from some kind of terrible trauma because she is unable to leave the confines of her home. We know that she lives alone, separated from her family. We know that she has a tenant who helps her around the house in exchange for a lowered rent. We know he is called David. We know that he is doing some work for the new neighbors across the park. We also know that she has spent the last 11 months, while unable to leave the house, either staring out the window, watching the lives of other people play out as her own stagnates behind closed doors or watching old classic movies on TV or engaging with others on the internet, others on a site called Agora, for people like her. We know that her user name is “the doctor is in” and she is committed to helping others with her affliction. We know that there are only a couple of people who engage with her to try and help her get through this terrible emotionally fraught time of her life. One is Dr. Fielding, her therapist. One is Bina, her physical therapist. We know that aside from them, she is most often alone watching the lives beyond her windows. We know that she has noticed that a new family, the Russells, Jane, Alistair and Ethan, have moved into a very high-end home across the park from her. They do not cover their windows, and she watches the goings on in their home avidly. We know she has a very vivid imagination. We also know that she believes she has witnessed a murder. We know that no one believes her. We also know that since she most often drinks and takes pills, lives in a bathrobe and is not too serious about her own hygiene that she is suffering greatly, emotionally, and may possibly be hallucinating. We know when she calls the police to report incidents she has witnessed from her window that the police view her as a nuisance. We also know that although the neighbors do not come calling much, she does not seem to want any visitors. We know that she believes a woman has come to visit her and has played chess with her. We know she believes it was Jane Russell, and that it was she who sent her the candle as a gift.
We don’t know why she Dr. Fox is in such pain that she cannot leave her house. We do not know much about the tenant, David, who lives in her basement for minimal rent in exchange for help in the house. We know the new neighbors have a young, well-mannered, home-schooled son who came to see Anna and brought her a scented candle, a present from his mother, but we do not know much about him other than the fact that he seems shy and sensitive to Dr. Fox. We don’t know much about the Jane Russell that Alistair and the police bring to see her. So, we don’t know if she has imagined the murder because of her addiction to murder movies and her carelessness with drink and drugs. We don’t know if her intuition is always on the mark or if it is colored by her emotional distress. We don’t know why she has conversations with her husband and her daughter from afar. We know that the internet is her salvation as it is her way to communicate with the outside world, but we can’t be sure how much influence it or the TV has on her psyche.
We are left to constantly wonder about Anna as her mind wanders, conjuring up all sorts of mysteries that cannot be solved. We are left to wonder whether or not they are real or figments of her confused imagination. We are left to wonder about who the title means is the woman in the window. Is it Anna or Jane or another woman entirely? Each woman has a unique part to play regarding the windows. We also have to wonder about what happened to separate Anna from her family? We are forced to wonder where they are? Why can’t they be with her? Then we think, is there really a Jane Russell, or if it simply the name of a the star of one of her old time moives. Is she a figment of her imagination when in a drug induced state? Was anyone really murdered? Is David, her tenant a possible threat to her? Why did Alistair Russell lose his job? Is Ethan troubled about his sexuality? Does Ethan have problems at home?
This author keeps the reader on the edge of the seat, knowing just when to switch the scene, just when to leave the reader guessing about what is coming next. In the end, Finn cleverly ties up all the loose ends, knitting them together seamlessly. There are no miraculous results, but the story works out perfectly without disappointing as so many endings often do. The road the author takes to answering all the questions and solving the mystery will keep the reader on the edge of their seat, eager to turn the pages. The reader’s attention is held constantly with the push and pull of the narrative as questions are raised that elude answers.
This is a good one. There are several aspects of the story that the reader may guess at, but the entire story will never reveal itself until the author reveals it.