Beth's Book Review

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

a4ad1b28fe8e96b60999_Woman_in_the_Window.jpg
a4ad1b28fe8e96b60999_Woman_in_the_Window.jpg

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” Oops, that's not what she meant, I realized when I finished the mostly engaging novel. But, I will get back to this thought a little later in my review.

The premise of The Woman in the Window is solid. After an extremely traumatic event, Dr. Anna Fox, a psychiatrist who specializes in the mental issues of children, has been shut in her house. Anna is suffering from “Agoraphobia: In translation the fear of the marketplace, in practice the term for a range of anxiety disorders.” (p. 26) Every time Anna tries to leave her home, panic attacks overwhelm her, and she collapses from the fear of being outside the safe cocoon of familiar ground.

Sign Up for E-News

Anna spends her days doing four things; she drinks wine, starting at breakfast, she views old movies, particularly suspense thrillers like The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, and Gaslight, she treats people who are shut-ins like her on a website that she has established, using the handle thedoctorisin, and she is a voyeur, peeking out of her window, watching her neighbors, an act that calls to mind the suspenseful Hitchcock film, Rear Window, which starred Jimmy Stewart. Stewart's character has been house bound due to a broken leg, and confides what he witnesses to his gorgeous girlfriend, portrayed by Grace Kelly.

The homage to Hitchcock's masterpiece is unmistakeable as the reader gets caught in Anna's web of suspicions about the new neighbors who have moved into the renovated area of Harlem, across the park from Anna's home. Alistair and Jane Russell have joined the neighborhood with their teenage son, Ethan, whom Anna often watches at night as he sits at his computer. Anna witnesses a violent event that occurs in the Russell's home, but when she calls the police, they do not believe her due to her condition, and the fact that she is heavily self-medicating, not only with wine which she has delivered to her home by the case, but by prescription pain killers which help treat an undisclosed physical injury.

For the most part the novel really works. Aside from a relationship that Anna begins to cultivate with young Ethan across the park, and a pleasant encounter with his mother, Jane, Anna has a handsome tenant, who lives in her basement and pays rent to help Anna offset expenses. Her husband, Ed, has moved out of the house and taken their only child, Olivia, with him, much to Anna's dismay. The reason for their estrangement is not revealed for most of the book, and the question of their relationship hangs over the story like a nagging toothache.

Anna begins to experience a bit of “gas lighting” herself. Mysterious and onerous things begin to happen in her home. A picture of herself sleeping during the night is sent to her on her phone, and things disappear from her household, and then return. The police theorize that Anna has gone off the deep end and may be doing these things to herself. Anna is frustrated by the fact that no one believes her and even she begins to question her grip on reality.

A.J. Finn, whose real name is Daniel Mallory, is an Oxford graduate and former book critic and editor. His skills as a wordsmith are excellent; the book is well written and holds the reader's attention throughout. It doesn't quite hold one of the edge of her seat, but it's a good read . . . up until the ending.

So now back to what my friend meant when she said that she wished that she hadn't finished the book. The book's ending is so predictable and flat that it disappoints on every level, and for an author who spent time as a critic and editor, that is a perplexing problem. There is actually no climax to the novel, when there really could have been, and about thirty pages of denouement that were so boring that I really didn't care what happened to Anna, or any of the other characters for that matter.

The thing about the classic suspense movies is that they hold the viewer on the edge of the seat until the last nail biting moment fades into the film's credits. We identify with the character as he or she is terrorized during the story. Unfortunately, Finn failed to pack the emotional wallop that a thriller really needs.

Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at trackdak19@hotmail.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Union

The Science of Sound

July 18, 2018

 

UNION, NJ - Would your child like to learn about the science of sound?

The Union Library, in collaboration with Mad Science of West NJ, is hosting a program for kids, ages 6 through 12, who will learn about sound waves and create their own rainstorm, complete with rain, thunder and lightening.

The event will be held on  July 23, at 6:00 p.m.  Registration is ...

Rec on Wheels Cancelled for Tuesday Due to Heavy Rains

 

UNION, NJ - Due to inclement weather, the Rec on Wheels event scheduled for Tuesday at Joe Collins Park is canceled. 

The program will resume on Wednesday, July 18 at Sgt. Herbet Davis Park located at 940 Arcadia Place, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., with a variety of outdoor games and activities.

Union Rec to Host Instructional Co-Ed Basketball Clinic

UNION, NJ - The Union Recreation Department will host an instructional, co-ed basketball clinic Wednesday, Aug. 15 and Wednesday, Aug. 22, at Davis Park, 940 Arcadia Place.

The clinic, featuring fun drills and games, will run from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. for participants in third- through fifth-grade and 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

Participants must be Union ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_1745e208dced874ffd8b_e6e6158b48ac79ad3add_chair_yoga__1_

Wed, July 18, 10:15 AM

Union Public Library, Union

Chair Yoga in the Library

Carousel_image_a22c1d64d88d7595f3dd_vauxhall_public_library

Wed, July 18, 2:00 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, union

Women Entrepreneur Support Group

Carousel_image_e87472a2f20218fe367c_mini_magick20180712-3637-e6okj6

Wed, July 18, 3:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Teen Paint and Sip

Carousel_image_4fffc6783f5ed8e60522_392633cf1a1f0d770caf_playing_cards

Wed, July 18, 6:00 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Union

Club Teen: Game Time

Union's Mayor Talks About Streetscapes

The Township Committee and I are excited to announce that the second phase of the Streetscape Project has begun.  After the successful completion of phase one that yielded great results, we have already seen an increase in foot traffic, which is essential in jump-starting Union Center and bringing in the higher caliber retailers that residents are looking for in the Center.

Following the ...

Stacy Fortes of Union Graduates from Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child

July 5, 2018

SUMMIT, NJ,  — Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child held its 90th commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 10, on its 11-acre campus in Summit. The 63 graduates kept with school tradition and donned white gowns and gloves, and carried pink roses.

Union graduate Stacy Fortes will be attending Kean University in the fall.

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is a ...

Roselle Man Charged in Animal Cruelty Case      

July 11, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ — The Roselle man found with more than 40 dogs living in severely unsanitary and inhumane living conditions in his home last month has been charged with more than 30 criminal offenses, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Wednesday.

Evelio J. Calderon, 40, is charged with two 3rd-degree animal cruelty offenses, 14 counts of 4th-degree animal ...

Rahway Mayor Giacobbe to Attend Grand Opening of First Wawa Store in Rahway; Free Coffee Offered Through July 16

RAHWAY, NJ - Rahway Mayor Raymond A. Giacobbe will be on hand to cut the ribbon at 10 a.m. Thursday. July 12, for the new Wawa store's grand opening at 280 St. Georges Avenue in Rahway.

The 24-hour Wawa store will officially open at 8 a.m. on Thursday, with the grand opening ceremonies to follow. Free coffee will be offered at the store through July 16. Wally Goose, the ...

Former Linden Police Chief to be Appointed as Union County Undersheriff

LINDEN, NJ - Former Linden Police Chief Jonathan Parham is set to be sworn in as a Union County Undersheriff, this Friday.

As a member of the Linden Police Department for nearly 25 years, Parham has served in each rank from Officer to Captain before his promotion to Chief in September of 2016. 

During his first month as Chief, Parham along with other Linden Police ...

Traffic Advisory: Accident on GSP South Causes Closure Near Clark Circle

July 17, 2018

CLARK, NJ - A multi-vehicle accident on the southbound Garden State Parkway shortly beyond exit 135 has been causing major delays on the roadway.  Clark Police issued a warning that the southbound entrance to the parkway is closed at the Clark Circle due to an accident investigation taking place on the parkway at this time.  Motorists are advised to avoid the area.  ...

Westfield to Hold 3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ Celebrating Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

15th Annual Maplewoodstock is this Weekend: July 14 and July 15

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The 15th Annual Maplewoodstock Music and Arts Festival, a free, two-day, live music and arts event, will be held this Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, from noon until 10 p.m. each day in Memorial Park.   

The 23 bands performing were selected from a record-high 109 applicants in 2018, who radiate from Maplewood/South Orange to other musical ...

Video: Mail Truck Careens into Warinanco Park Pond

ELIZABETH/ROSELLE/LINDEN, NJ - Police, Fire, and Rescue units responded to a U.S. Mail truck that drove head-on into the pond in Warinanco Park on Thursday afternoon. 

Sometime after 2 p.m. responders were called to the scene to find the mail truck in the water. A park worker said that while he did not see the truck go into the water, he did arrive just in time to see who he believed to ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

July 18, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with programs and ...

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Award-Winning Senior Art Exhibited at Freeholders Gallery

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to present a new exhibit of award winning artworks by local artists age 60 and up, now on display at the Freeholders Gallery through August 29. Each of the 13 works received first place honors in the countywide Senior Art Exhibit held earlier this summer in the Atrium at Liberty Hall in Union Township.

“Each in their own unique way, ...

Union County’s Free Summer Arts Festival Continues July 18 at Echo Lake Park Featuring 5 Against 1

The Union County Summer Arts Festival concert series continues on Wednesday July 18, with the band 5 Against 1 taking the stage at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

The free series is presented by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. It is held at Echo Lake Park during July and moves to Oak Ridge Park in Clark during August.

“We look forward to seeing everyone at Echo Lake Park ...

Columns

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)

 

If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...

The Anatomy of Escape by Mike Blue

The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure by Mike Blue (Available on Amazon)

 

Imagine that you could just say, “Chuck it,” and walk away from the bonds that keep you tied to what Mike Blue, author of The Anatomy of Escape: An Unconventional Adventure, defines as the restrictive Work-Consume-Die cycle. To most of us, becoming what Blue terms “a ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

What Union is Reading: Month ending June 2018

July 6, 2018

It is summertime and a great time to get in some reading! Many great new books have topped the list in June. The top circulating print books in six categories for the Union Public Library in June 2018 follows. The top circulated digital books from RBdigital make up the seventh category; download the app today and start borrowing books from home to read or listen on your phone or tablet at the ...

Body Pulled From Delaware River

July 9, 2018

KINGWOOD, NJ – First responders were on the scene at the Delaware River and pulling the body of a man from the water Friday.

“The worst has happened,” said Greg Crance, who owns Delaware River Tubing, a popular nearby tubing, rafting, kayaking  and canoeing outfitter on the river.

However, the victim is not one of his customers, Crance said.

The body was ...

Letters to the Editor