ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Mallory (born 1979) is an American editor and author who writes under the name A. J. Finn. His first novel The Woman in the Window debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Seller List and has been adapted into a feature film. Mallory worked for several years in London at Sphere Books, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. He wrote The Woman in the Window while living in New York and working as the vice-president and executive editor at the publisher William Morrow and Company.
And if I don’t want to die, I’ve got to start living.
An intelligent novel of psychological suspense, The Woman in the Window is one of the most realistic descriptions of the daily life of a depressed person. The book is narrated from the perspective of Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist whose agoraphobia has confined her to her own home for ten months. She spends her days playing online chess, counseling other agoraphobia patients in an online community, drinking a lot more wine than she should, and watching her neighbors through the window with the zoom lens on her camera. When a new family moves in to a neighboring house, she witnesses something horrible that leaves her determined to convince everyone else that what she saw was real, after her heavy dosages of medication and the several bottles of wine she tippled earlier that day lead them to believe that she concocted the entire thing.
Like many thrillers, there’s a contrived quality to the story — plot elements designed a little unnaturally for the purpose of having the mystery pan out in a specific way, as opposed to what the readers might come to expect — and yet, there are certain things that do not make complete sense. The similarity of the plot with those penned by other prominent names in the same genre also contribute to its predictability. Nonetheless, the plot is elaborate, and the characters are intricately written. It’s hard not to sympathize with the main character as one watches her mental health deteriorate throughout. The book isn’t short on twists and turns, either.
Short chapters titled with datelines end as cliffhangers as the author keeps adding depth to the reader’s perception of Anna. Hints of adultery, a traumatic trip with her family in a snowstorm, her unbelievable ability to lie to her therapists and friends – you name it. Are you drinking, they ask. “No,” she replies, then “Yes” to herself.
That being said, the reader likes Anna. Though a fallible narrator, she is concerned about what she believes she saw, even if a compassionate police detective doesn’t trust her. Finn ingeniously misleads the reader with delayed information and red herrings. He also gives a good account of himself in creating metaphors for Anna’s depressed, pill-induced semi-hallucinatory state and restricting the reader’s point of view to hers.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my time working with children, if I could whittle those years down to a single revelation, it’s this: They are extraordinarily resilient. They can withstand neglect; they can survive abuse; they can endure, even thrive, where adults would collapse like umbrellas.
However, what truly makes this book so great is its ability to take the readers inside the protagonist’s mind, only to be left wondering the same things as her; it is indeed a slow burner with plenty of shocking twists that maintain the plot’s compactness against all odds. We learn that the sleeping, slurping, self-engrossed and self-destructive Anna Fox was once fully alive and how her vulnerability contributed to her steep fall.
By narrating the story from Anna’s perspective, Finn allows the readers to dive deep into the complicated tangle of her conflicting thoughts, and as she begins to question her own sanity, so does the reader. Her own story and the source of her agoraphobia unfold slowly through her conversations with her husband, from whom she is separated and has not seen during her period of confinement, and the details she reveals to a woman she comes to know in her online agoraphobia community.
The second half of the book is a roller coaster. The Woman in the Window twists and turns throughout the second half; some parts of it are more predictable than others, but even if you aren’t shocked at each turn, it is a fun ride if you are someone who enjoys trying to piece together or guess at what is going to happen next.
The Woman in the Window is a perfect read for those who enjoy slow-burning thrillers that emphasize profound character development through compelling writing, which earns it a rating of 3.9 out of 5. Recommended to be read while spending time alone, the novel will surely make any reader question their perception of what’s real and what’s not.
…now that you’re here
As you might know, Ameya runs on a purely non-profit basis. With no tangible products on offer, advertisements and donations are our only two sources of keeping this blog up and running. You could convey your support to us with something as little as $5 - that's less than what an average Starbucks would cost!