Book title – The woman in the window
Publisher – Harper Collins
Author – A J Finn
Price – ₹ 399/- Pages – 427 Language – English
Available on – Amazon
If you were haunted by your past, by the events that decreed how your future would be, what would you turn out to be like? Would you carry on with life taking everything in your stride? Would you seek help and then try to move past the shadows of your past? Or, would you take the easier course and retreat into the shadows, closing yourself off to the world? In simpler words would you become an agoraphobic?
I don’t think any of us can answer the above questions because it would be difficult for us to visualize ourselves to feel that much pain. But, that is exactly what he book explores and it is brilliantly chronicled.
The story opens to the woman in the window, living alone in a four story independent house with a tenant in the basement. The woman is agoraphobic, alcoholic and has episodes that border on delusion – that is what her doctor feels, her psychiatrist. The only contact she has with the outside world is via her camera lens which is always trained on the houses on her street. That is how she intimately gets to know her neighbours, without their knowledge. Is she a snoop, a peeping tom? Hell yes! She is that and much worse for she minutely chronicles their activities and lives and in fact lives her own life through them. One day she witnesses something that she should not have and it starts with a scream. Then, all hell breaks loose. The book takes you through Anna’s struggles as she grapples with her agoraphobia and yo-yos between lucidity and delusion. Or, is it her delusion? Is it the figment of a wino’s mind or, something more sinister is at play?
Fair warning – If you do not like SOC style narratives then I do not recommend you pick this one up. You will lose the essence. But, if you understand SOC narration then I recommend this book. This book places you squarely in the mind of the protagonist and you see, observe, hear and feel all that she does. And, not all of the emotions and feelings are pretty! Some are pretty gut-wrenching and leave you feeling bereft and lost.
The language is brilliant although it is a bit too poetic at times. The adjectives and many metaphors take your breath away initially but they become a tad overdone as you progress. However, I did like the flow of the book. The sentences are framed tautly and they appear almost terse in places. That helps build the atmosphere a lot. The book is a little slow in the beginning (at least I found it so) and I had to stick it out till I completed the first quarter. Then the tempo picked up.
And, the ending…that is brilliant. It is a masterstroke and totally unexpected. I loved the twist in the end for I am very partial to stories that have that rug-pull effect.
Overall, the book leaves you with a lingering feeling or an indescribable emotion.