Published: January 2, 2018
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
The title character, Anna Fox, is thirty-eight and lives alone in a costly house in uptown Manhattan. We soon learn why she is so often peering out her window. She is agoraphobic and has not left home in nearly a year, but she delights in spying on her neighbors. Otherwise, Anna drinks a LOT of wine, mostly Merlot, and watches countless black-and-white movie classics — “Gaslight,” “Rebecca,” “Strangers on a Train” and “Spellbound” are among her favorites.
Anna’s husband has left her and taken their 8-year-old daughter with him. She talks to them by phone and vainly begs him to return. She’s a child psychologist and still advises a few patients by email, but mostly she is alone with her wine, her movies and her cat. She also has a tenant, a handsome carpenter who lives in her basement. His presence injects a bit of “will they or won’t they?” excitement into the story, but mostly she is content to spy on her neighbors.
Then, Ethan Russell, a boy of 16 who lives across the street, arrives bearing a gift from his mother. He is a good-looking, friendly lad: “He looks like a boy I once knew, once kissed — summer camp in Maine, a quarter century ago. I like him.” Anna meets Ethan’s parents, Paul and Jane, and Finn’s plot kicks in.
The Russells are a troubled family. Ethan hints that his father is violent toward his wife and son. Anna uses her binoculars to learn more, and one day sees what she believes is an act of violence. She calls the police, who investigate and find no problem. They think Anna’s wine consumption — two or three bottles a day — along with the many prescription drugs she consumes, have impaired her judgment. (Anna cherishes George Bernard Shaw’s quip that alcohol is the “anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”) She continues to spy on the Russells, and dark deeds soon unfold.
Although Finn’s plot must not be revealed, it’s fair to say that his characters are rarely who or what they first appear to be. And that his story ends with a series of mind-boggling surprises. The Woman in the Window is first-rate entertainment that is finally a moving portrait of a woman fighting to preserve her sanity
I only gave it four stars because it was slow in places and almost drove me to start drinking Merlot!!!!