It’s time for another debate – this time about the much-praised The Woman at the Window by AJ Finn. With a fast-paced plot and twists aplenty, it was certainly an exciting read – but did Karen enjoy it as much as Lucy? Let’s find out!
The book is about Anna, an ex-child psychologist, who is also agoraphobic. Right from the start, it's established that something is 'off', and indeed, the mystery is as much about discovering what the heck's going on with her as it is about solving the murder.
She makes a habit of watching people from her window, and takes special interest in the new family across the road; a son called Ethan and his parents. Only thing is, she observes the mother get murdered, only to find out from the police that the woman never existed. Sinister stuff indeed.
Lucy: So, how did you come across this book, Karen?
Karen: It was recommended to me by a colleague who’d made a review for the ‘Exeter Library Staff Recommends’ YouTube video.
Lucy: That’s such a cool idea, librarians recommending books on YouTube, I’m definitely going to check that out. Like you, this book was also recommended to me by a friend. For the most part, I can totally see why they loved it.
Karen: I think, by and large, it was an awesome psychological thriller – though there were some aspects I wasn’t so keen on.
Lucy: Yep, I agree! Let’s start with what was good about it. I personally loved the set-up – an agoraphobic woman imprisoned in her own home, watching the neighbours from her window; there was something creepy about that idea right from the start.
Karen: Yes, it was a dark premise. I think having Anna stuck in the house meant that every other character became even more significant, and that was clever. Through her suspicions, the reader starts questioning everyone and everything.
Lucy: I thought her backstory was devastating too. Though I did see it coming about halfway through.
Karen: That was clever, making us sympathise with her and explaining why she can’t leave the house. However, in spite of her plight, I didn’t find her a likeable character.
Lucy: Really? I’m not sure I had a strong feeling either way – why didn’t you like her?
Karen: Not sure, really. There was just something ‘off’ about her.
Lucy: I suppose she was quite selfish at times?
Karen: Perhaps it was that! Also, the constant need to self-medicate with alcohol. That was a bit annoying.
Lucy: I know what you mean, though I personally felt that made her seem more helpless, and more like her own worst enemy in a way. What did you think about the plot-twists?
Karen: Some I did not see coming at all. Especially the twist at the end, that was a bit of a shocker – and for me, one of the best aspects of the book.
Lucy: I’m with you there, I totally didn’t see it coming. I loved the whole plot set-up too; that she’d seen this dreadful thing take place in the window, but then couldn’t prove it or do anything about it. That was clever.
Karen: Yeah, her inability to control what was happening made those plot-twists even more powerful, I felt.
Lucy: Powerful and rather dark too.
Karen: But it was the darkness that I found a bit draining after a while. I know this is very much the genre, but I do like occasional uplifting moments in the dark!
Lucy: As you say though, this is very typical with this type of book. I guess the antidote is to go and read a lovely cheery novel straight afterwards.
Karen: Yes, I am totally going to have to do that.
Lucy: So, what would you rate it then?
Karen: I’d go for a clever, entertaining 4 out of 5 stars.
Lucy: I’d go slightly higher. Maybe 4.5 out of 5. I thought it was a clever take on the traditional ‘thriller’ plot.
Karen: Right, I’m off to pick something cheery to read now!
Lucy: Ha! Have fun!