Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Synopsis: What did she see?
It’s 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 to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbors. When the Russells move in, Anna is 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. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
The Woman in the Window is a debut novel that’s been buzzed about for months. There’s even a movie in the works already. In cases like this I’ve found more often than not that the book just can’t live up to all the hype. However, in this instance, it actually does.
For Hitchcock fans you might have thought reading the synopsis that it sounds like the classic Rear Window. And you’d be absolutely right. Only in this case instead of the lead character being laid up with a broken leg like Jimmy Stewart, Dr. Anna Fox has severe agoraphobia which keeps her trapped in her three story New York brownstone. She’s completely alone except for her tenant Daniel, who lives in the basement, her psychiatrist, and her physical therapist. She has a husband and daughter but they’re separated, although they talk everyday. Her days for the last ten months, for the most part consist of taking pills to control her anxiety and depression, and drinking too much wine. She also loves watching old black and white movies (mainly Hitchcock), and watching her neighbors through her Nikon camera. When she witnesses an attack in her neighbors house across the street, no one believes her. The neighbors deny anything happened and the police find her not to be credible. Soon even Anna begins to question herself.
Anna is one of the most complex characters I’ve come across this year. She was a successful psychologist herself until an unknown trauma destroyed her life ten months previously. I had already begun to guess what happened long before the trauma that put her in this state was revealed, but the heartbreaking details still managed to shock me. I found myself frustrated by her drinking and pill popping while at the same time sympathizing with the pain she was in. And once Anna witnesses this crime across the street, well that just adds a whole new level to her suffering. But what I loved the most about her was by the end of the book she was a much stronger woman than she gave herself credit for. To be honest, if I had gone through what she does, I’m not sure I would be able to persevere.
The beginning of the story is a little slow, but as it progresses and you get to know Anna and the other characters that are introduced, the pace picks up. I don’t think I’d call this a thriller but more a simmering suspense. The twist at the end did catch me completely unaware.
In my humble opinion, The Woman in the Window stands out from the other books that have come out in the wake of novels like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. There’s a claustrophobic, noirish atmosphere introduced from the first chapter, and that, coupled with the two puzzles: what happened to Anna ten months ago, and has she now indeed witnessed an unspeakable crime, kept me feverishly turning the pages in search of the answers.
I highly recommend this for fans of slow burning suspense, sketchy characters, and twisty plots. I guarantee that by the time you’re at the halfway point you’re going to have a difficult time putting this down. I also promise that Dr. Anna Fox will stay in your mind weeks after you’ve finished the book. I can’t wait to see who they cast in the movie!