HarperCollins | January 2018 | 448 pgs
The Woman in the Window has been all over the blogosphere lately and it was hard to ignore giving all the hype surrounding it. I dived into this book blind and with high expectations, after all a few of my favourite authors have praised this book fervently. And most of all, it has an unreliable narrator who is an alcoholic and has a few issues (which sounds right up my alley.)
Dr Anna Fox's profession is a child psychologist. She is also an agoraphobiac who is depressed and traumatised by a past event. She is separated from her husband but she does communicate with him and their young daughter from time to time. Living alone and housebound (though she has a tenant who lives in the basement), she finds solace and entertainment through the Internet, giving online advice to a few people like her, binge watching her favourite black and white Hitchcockian films, and watching her neighbours through her camera. All seems to be well until the Russells move in.
The Russells consist of three members: Alistair, Jane and their seventeen-year-old son, Ethan. Anna is fascinated by her new neighbour; they remind her a bit of her happier days with her family and the life she used to have. One day, Ethan drops by Anna's house to pass her a gift, saying it is from his mother. Subsequently, Anna gets to meet Jane and they hit it off well, sharing drinks and playing chess at Anna's house until one evening she witnessed something horrifying to Jane through her camera.
However, when the police comes and the interrogation begins, no one seems to believe Anna given her history of depression and her bout of drinks and medications. And when Alistair brings Jane along for the police interview, Anna is shocked to find a stranger instead. Is she delusional all along? Has she imagine someone to find that she doesn't exist at all and that it's all in her head?
If you are a fan of psychological thrillers and unreliable narrators, Anna wouldn't be a stranger to you. Like the other unreliable characters of the same genre, they are most often annoying and some even seem unlikeable, yet they intrigue you in a way and you couldn't help but to be invested in their story, no matter what kind of a person they are and/or the issues they are dealing with. This is the beauty of unreliable narrators and the essence of psychological suspense because they just suck you in. Anna was an interesting character but I have to say I have mixed feelings about her though. On one hand I felt sorry for her and the bad things she'd gone through yet on the other hand, I was perplexed over her bad decisions and wondered why she did this and that, without much explanations given.
While The Woman in the Window was suspenseful, there were also some slow moments, too. Anna's behaviours might also put off to some; for she drank too much and occasionally mixing her drinks with her medications. This plus what she did in her house as well as her wandering thoughts took up much of the first part of the story but I suppose it was for the buildup of intensity and to give readers some doubts about Anna's credibility. Despite the bits of dragging, the progress of the story was smooth and it allows a fast and easy reading with the short chapters.
As for the twists and turns, there was the first one which I felt has been used before but even though I was surprised by the ending, it wasn't shocking to an extent that left me speechless (I blame it on my high expectations and the anticipation of something different which would knock my socks off.) That said, it was still a good read though, and I'd be interested to watch the film adaption once it is released.
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