Anna Fox is a prisoner in her own home. Suffering with severe agoraphobia, she hasn’t left the Harlem brownstone for the best part of a year, and instead passes her days self-medicating on a diet of merlot and pills. Unable to exist in the real world outside, her only access to reality is the through the window that separates her from the streets below.
“Many of us – the most severely afflicted, the ones grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder – are housebound, hidden away from the messy, messy world outside. Some dread the heaving crowds; others, the storm of traffic. For me, it’s the vast skies, the endless horizon, the sheer exposure, the crushing pressure of the outdoors.”
Taking photographs of her neighbours about their daily business, it’s easy enough to dismiss her as a fraught, disturbed woman who is so dosed up on a toxic cocktail that we can’t take a word she says seriously. But prior to her self-enforced imprisonment, Anna was a child psychologist – and a good one. If there’s anyone who knows about the workings of the mind, it should be her.
When the Russells move into the street, her delicate equilibrium – occasional visits from her psychiatrist, phone calls with her estranged partner and daughter and online games of chess – is disrupted. Convinced she has heard a piercing scream and seen a violent attack, Anna sets about trying to disentangle the truth from what is uncertain. Trapped indoors, the silence punctuated by film noir, it becomes difficult to ascertain what is real and what is happening within the confines of her mind…
It’s important to note that this book came with huge hype – glowing accolades from everyone from Stephen King to Gillian Flynn. Expectations were high, and whilst it kept my interest, it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. I think I’ve just had one-too-many an unreliable narrator of late, and it’s wearing thin. The pace could have done with being ramped up a few notches, and there were some plot points that left me scratching my head in confusion.
That said, the strength of this psychological thriller was the exposition – our protagonist suffering from a debilitating condition, the claustrophobic confines, stale air and dim light of her five-storey home, sinister film noir playing perpetually in the background. Finn crafts all the essential components of any decent thriller, and writes well with punchy, rhythmic prose. For a debut, it’s a good effort.
I received this copy through NetGalley and this is my unbiased opinion. The Woman in the Window will be published on 25th January 2018 by HarperCollins.