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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn: My take on the book [Review] #book2movies

I’ve already done a bit of raving about The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, pre-casting Call Me By Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet in the role of Ethan. Here’s my official ‘review’ of the book everyone is calling the new Gone Girl, the next Girl on the Train. Except it’s not, not really. While I loved both those books with all their pulpy thrills, the Woman in the Window is, like the protagonist, much more mature, more nuanced, more well-developed.

First, here’s how the publisher describes it:
Already a New York Times bestseller, The Woman in the Window is a thrilling slice of contemporary noir peppered with more than a twist of Hitchcockian suspense and deftly handled misdirection, with twists that you won’t see coming.
A chronic agoraphobic, Anna Jones hasn’t left her home in ten months. Spending her days and nights cocooned within the safety of her house, Anna retreats into the safety of the black and white films she binge-watches in the company of her cat and one-too-many bottles of wine. A former child psychologist, she used to have a busy life, a husband, a daughter. Now her husband has left her, taking their daughter with him, and Anna is left haunting the rooms of their house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Her one constant lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly 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 friendless, isolated and under suspicion from those she wishes to help, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
Effortlessly combining contemporary debates about power, love, depression and the isolation of urban living with the electrifying tension of films such as Rear Window, Gaslight and Vertigo, The Woman in the Window is one of 2018’s most exciting and unmissable debuts.

The big difference between those previous titular Girls and Anna, it should be clear, is that Anna is no girl. At close to forty, she’s a woman, a wife, mother, separated from her husband and daughter, torn apart by trauma. Her concerns aren’t a younger woman’s insecurities about her relationship, another woman taking her husband, jealousy. Her wounds are deeper, her concerns feel weightier. Anna desperately wants her family back.

The writing too, feels fresh, original, less glib. Here she is:
‘I study myself in the mirror. Wrinkles like spokes around my eyes. A slur of dark hair, tigered her and there with gray, loose about my shoulders; stubble in the scoop of my armpit. My belly has gone slack. Dimples stipple my thighs. Skin almost luridly pale, veins flowing violet within my arms and legs. 
Dimples, stipples, stubble, wrinkle: I need work. I had a down-home appeal once, according to some, according to Ed. “I thought of you as the girl next door,’’ he said sadly, toward the end.’’
Hard to believe that author A.J. Finn is a man, the moniker a pseudonym for Daniel Mallory, a VP and executive editor at William Morrow. He is The Man Who Knows Women—not girls, mind you, but women of a certain age, so that even an older woman (like me) could relate. 

His characters, from minor to major, are equally well drawn. From the fragile Ethan to Anna’s mysterious lodger, the characters we encounter on Anna’s chat page for Agoraphobics ring true. No false notes. The writer also gives Anna a deep love and knowledge of old movies—especially suspenseful noir films—using those films skillfully to add to the suspense of the book. 

Take alcohol—Anna sloshes red wine from morning till night— mix it with agoraphobia, add a large dose of self-loathing and shake it up with the feeling of being trapped and helpless to escape and you get the fascinating Anna—who also lies constantly, like any good alcoholic, about her drinking and more. She’s confined, not unlike Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, one of the black and white films she watches day after day. And like Stewart in the Hitchcock classic, she can’t help but take more and more risks to discover the truth about what she’s seen in the window of the house across the park, and we the audience, the reader, can’t look away either.We’re at the window with her, peeking across the park, biting our nails. We’ve seen, not just what’s at the window, but the inner life of Anna as well. That’s why we care.

The book has already been snapped up by Hollywood so sometime in the coming weeks, we’ll start to see casting suggestions for Anna. Irene—my British librarian friend (@IreneHumphreysa) who gave it a 5 star review on Good Reads—and I have already discarded the Girls Rosamund Pike and Emily Blunt, for obvious reasons. Irene has suggested Anna Friel as a possibility. Friel is an English actress known for the British series Marcella and Broken with Sean Bean.

Anna Friel

I’m not sure, she may be a bit too young and fresh-faced. What do you think? Do you have thoughts on who would be perfect for the part? I’m all ears.

I don’t do ratings but if I did I’d give it:
5 out of 5 glasses of Merlot 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷