Welcome to the discussion forum on our first book, “The Woman in The Window” by A.J. Finn. If you haven’t yet finished this book, then stop here because we are going to dive into everything and all the details. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, Emma & I began a book club this past month to stimulate our minds and promote reading this year. Click here to read the post explaining a little bit about the book club and our first book.
Spoiler Alert Below
How crazy was that ending, huh? If you have ever watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” or seen the movie, “Disturbia” starring Shia Lebouf, then you have a brief taste of the craziness surrounding the storyline and the main character, Anna Fox.
Overall, we LOVED this book. I’m sure there are people out there who feel like a lot of the topics from this story were taken from other storylines – other movies & books – but isn’t that how life works? I personally was excited to have a cross of the movies we spoke about above, Disturbia was one of our mid-2000 faves.
It’s always exciting when you are left guessing all the way until the very last page in a book – and our “bad guy” didn’t disappoint.
Once you’re introduced to Anna and you start learning about her daily routines, you begin to wonder how she ever got to this point. The author doesn’t disclose anything until nearly the end of the story, so you’re left guessing what’s really going on for the majority of the book – which pushes you to go into different directions with the “whodunnit” portion. From the very beginning, you clearly realize that Anna is an alcoholic with a traumatic history. She is a child psychiatrist, which makes it all the more interesting because she’s very in tune and knows that what she’s doing isn’t helping her. She drinks 2-3 bottles of Merlot a day (which in itself is a huge issue) but when you mix the wine with all the prescription drugs.. along with Anna’s fear of going outside, she comes off as a hot mess. Even though she appears out of control with her own life, she is obviously very intelligent. WE found ourselves wanting to follow along and root for her. Usually, books that have a struggling main character aren’t necessarily my favorite (I love a strong protagonist) but there was something so “real” about Anna that I believed in.
“The Woman in The Window” – the title is clearly talking about Anna, when she spies on her neighbors through her camera lense. The topic of depression plays an important part on why Anna looks out her window every day to fuel her need for life and living. Being an agoraphobic, she has a fear of leaving her house, and because of this – she has hidden away from friends and all life outside. Anyone that crosses the threshold of her view becomes a character that she builds a storyline around. When the Russel family moves in across the street, she begins spying on them regularly from the beginning. At this point Anna was housebound for nearly a year and a half… the new family stimulated her curiosity from the moment they moved in.
Which leads us to another topic: Anna’s husband and daughter, who Anna is in continuous conversation with over the phone. We found it strange that the family didn’t live together and we aen’t given any information as to whether it’s a temporary or permanent situation. The husband made it clear on the phone with Anna that they were away for a specific reason, and as a reader we weren’t sure what he was even trying to insinuate. Was it a specific experience, was she sick or did she do something bad, or none of the above? It was confusing but yet kept us engaged throughout.
Another character we meet is the mysterious tenant who lives in the basement. Anna obviously thinks he’s cute, which we are happy to hear. It makes her seem normal somehow. He’s a pretty private person, and all we know is that he’s a carpenter and he dates occasionally.
Now on to the new family across the street… the Russel Family. We are first introduced to them via the son, Ethan, who brings a present to Anna from his mom. Anna is thrilled to finally speak to someone who dooesn’t show up simply because they are paid… (Anna has all her groceries delivered along with everything else) Ethan also seems shy and sweet enough.
From Anna’s description, Emma and I immediately like him. Most boys would never drop by a neighbor’s house by themselves if even their mom told them to – brownie points for Ethan. It was sweet that he had never seen some of the movie classics either, and seemed genuinely interested in learning more.
Side note: we loved the references to all the classic movies in this book. The author is an editor (this is his first book!) and he clearly has a love for film, which he reflects on his character, Anna. Anna Fox describes a lot of what she’s doing with references to her favorite films, such as “Gaslight” & others.
A running theme throughout the book is Anna’s awareness of agoraphobia, and her involvement in helping others in an online forum. We found it really interesting that not only does she struggle from this – but she also reaches out to help others. (Another sign of an intelligent woman.. she’s willing to admit her own fears but she’s also willing to put herself aside to help others face theirs.) People ping her on her I.M. throughout the day so she doesn’t feel “lonely” all the time, yet she really is always alone.
We found it interesting that there is always a theme in this story of “real vs. imaginative” which takes place with Anna’s online community as well. As shown through her conversations with “Grandma Lizzy” – who says that she struggles with agoraphobic issues, but then later, we discover that she is not who she says she is. The same could be said for her husband and daughter.
Twists that Shocked Us:
- When Ethan’s Mom went to Anna’s house and they shared a fun night together – but then the next day the husband came over to Anna’s and asked if his wife had come over to visit. Anna said no!! (So smart of her not to tell him.. he seemed menacing). Right then and there, Emma and I both decided that we weren’t fans of his. Hellooooo. He seemed so controlling. Ethan, his son wasn’t allowed to have a phone and he was in high school – what high school kid doesn’t have a phone these days?
- Ethan’s Mom (the first lady who visited Anna) was technically Ethan’s Mom, but… she didn’t live with the family! He was really adopted and his real mom’s name was Katie, not Jane! Also, the ‘Mom’ Ethan had at home (his adopted mom) was actually innocent of everything that had occurred. She was innocent.
- THAT ANNA’S FAMILY WAS REALLY DEAD THE WHOLE TIME. We were so shocked when the detective said it out loud and it turned out to be true. We knew that she had a traumatic experience and that she was going through something, but speaking to dead people on the phone? So sad and heartbreaking! At this point in the story, we felt one and the same with Anna. Also her story made Anna’s character come into question on whether or not she really did witness a murder across the street. We felt sorry for her!
- Finding out that Ethan was the person behind the “Grandma Lizzy” character online – I really believed that she was an older lady who needed help!Anna sleeping with David – wasn’t that steamy… but it was also a little uncomfortable because the deed happened in her daughter’s bed. (Why??)
- Ethan was the one behind all of the scary things that had been happening: the cat’s paw getting hurt (DON’T MESS WITH ANIMALS!), the scary photo of Anna sleeping that was sent anonymously to her inbox, and the fact that he had been sneaking in to her home every single night and watching her. Then he tried to kill her… o m g. What a crazy scene!
This book brought out so many emotions in me. One minute I’m sitting on the edge on my seat, and the next I’m feeling sadness and worry for Anna. The character development played out beautifully – and just like I said at the beginning, we were rooting for Anna throughout the entire story. One thing I can say is that this was a great “whodunnit” because I really didn’t know the entire story until the very end. Usually I can guess the story, but this time I was really thrown off.
Questions for you:
- What was the overall theme of this book for you? A story of loss, lies, or everything in between?
- Did you like Anna as much as we did or did she bother you?
- Did you figure out that Ethan was really a “wackadoodle” or were you as shocked as we were?
- Did you know anything about agoraphobia before this?
- What did you think about the author’s writing style? Did you think he referenced movies a little too much?
- What did you think about Anna and her family?
- Describe how you felt when you found out that Anna’s family was really dead.
- How did you feel when you found out that Ethan’s Dad helped hide Katie’s body and covered for Ethan?
This was so much fun – and I’m so excited to discuss everything with you. Comment below all of your thoughts & answers to any of the questions, and remember everyone.. you can comment on one another’s comments as well! We’ll be responding back to all the comments through the weekend, so keep them coming. ;)
“The Marriage Lie” by Kimberly Belle. “Even the perfect marriage has it’s dark side…” OMG you guys – this one was juicy. Emma says it had her guessing until the final page!
This book came out in 2016 but Emma and I just discovered it. Click here to purchase it on sale for under $10 (in paperback) or you can also purchase it in hardcover, on kindle or listen to it on audible. If you download audible for the first time, you get one book for free!
Synopsis: (from the back cover of the book)
Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and life is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will flies out for a business trip to Florida, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt: a plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board and, according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers.
Grief stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to uncover what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she finds shock her to her very core.
Have you read this book? If not – are you looking forward to this one? Let us know in the comments alongside your opinions on January’s book!
It would be great if you’d pin the photo below and spread the word! We’d love it if even more people joined for February’s book club:
Kristy & Emma