2018-05-31 / Opinions

Book Review

The Woman in the Window

I t began with Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, or at least that is when I became aware of suspense novels in which the reader discovered that the narrator was unreliable. Various reasons for unreliability appeared, and often the Damsel in Distress was the perpetrator rather than the victim. Now A.J. Finn (a pseudonym) has perhaps outdistanced his competition in The Woman in the Window.

Said window is in the house across the way that Anna has been watching. Anna admits that she is a “mess.” Suffering from agoraphobia, she never leaves the house and spends her time taking pills, drinking, and watching old movies. She also watches her neighbors, for lack of anything else to do. “As a sufferer (and that is the word), I say that agoraphobia hasn’t ravaged my life so much as become it.”

One of her activities is to log on to what she calls the Agora (the marketplace) where she, a psychologist, advises other people in psychic pain as “thedoctorisin.” She worries about her former patients and gets some relief by dealing with others online. Gradually her restricted life is revealed.

She sees only her physical therapist Bina and occasionally her tenant David. Money is clearly not a problem for her. Her medications are delivered as are her groceries. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Fielding, prescribes the medications and advises her, warning her not to mix alcohol with the pills, which she does anyway on a regular basis. Very rarely, she ventures outside into the garden, holding an umbrella straight ahead, while Dr. Fielding calls encouragement until she panics.

She never answers the doorbell until one evening, she lets in her young neighbor Ethan who brings her a gift from his mother next door. She actually lets him in, and they form a sort of friendship. Later a woman identifying herself as his mother helps her when she falls on the porch stoop, trying to chase away boys throwing eggs at her house. The two women form a real friendship, but it is not to last long. Anna talks about her husband Ed and a beloved daughter Olivia, who no longer live with her. She misses them terribly, and talks to Ed on the phone frequently. She watches people through her camera’s telescopic lens, especially now Ethan’s family. His bedroom is across from hers.

To say more would give away too much. Do read this novel if you enjoy danger and suspense, and prepare yourself for multiple surprises and twists. Finn is a remarkable writer. The Woman in the Window is available at the Mary Willis Library.

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