6.05.2018

20 for 2018: The Woman in the Window


If you read (and enjoyed) Gone Girl or Girl on the Train, you've probably already eyed up this title by A.J. Finn, the latest in a stream of unreliable-narrator-domestic-thriller-runaway-successes to hit the shelves.

Why I chose it

Well, first let me say, I eschew the term "beach read." There's this sense that we (read: women) should feel guilty for picking up books that are light and pleasurable unless we relegate them to light and pleasurable times (vacation, the beach, etc.). I don't think we need to treat books like "guilty pleasures" because they aren't widely considered Serious Literature. To echo this article in the New Yorker: any book can be a beach read. You can read Anna Karenina on the beach (if you're a nerd) or Twilight (if you're my grandma, and also the beach is your house).

Anyway, I say all of this because I bought this book to read on vacation. Not because I felt bad about reading it, but because I am awful traveler and needed an accessible and compelling book to draw me into the story and away from my anxiety and nausea. This book fit the bill. I started reading once we were through airport security, and finished it before I fell asleep in an Airbnb on the other side of the Atlantic.   

My stolen summary

From Harper Collins: "A twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house." (If the premise sounds a lot like the movie "Rear Window," yes, everyone says that).

Pros
  • The book is super easy to read and I found it entertaining
  • The twists were somewhat predictable, but still fun to get to
Cons
  • I found the incessant film noir references wearying. The main character is constantly watching, referring to, and quoting film noir. Snooze (for me, anyway. If you love film noir, get it, girl). The book has sold about a zillion copies, along with movie rights for a forthcoming flick starring Amy Adams, so I think it's safe to say that A.J. Finn (a.k.a., Daniel Mallory) has film noired himself all the way to the bank
  • I was curious at times about the handling of the protagonist's mental health issues. I haven't read any analyses of the book from this perspective, and I don't want to give too many plot points away, but occasionally I wondered how someone living with agoraphobia would feel about this particular portrayal. Not necessarily a con, but something that gave me pause.
Buy/Borrow/Bail?

Borrow it, if you can. It's not a bookshelf lifer, but it's worth a go if you're looking for something quick and engaging. It was the perfect airplane read for this nervous traveler. $14 well spent.