My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts
Day 88: Book Review – The Woman in the Window
I found myself with nothing to read last Friday. Among other presents Father Christmas had given me three books, I’d finished them all and so now what … Fortunately, I was downtown and within walking distance to Chapters Indigo, Canada’s largest book retailer.
Since the authors I follow had nothing new on the shelves, I browsed for something else to read and came across ‘The Woman in the Window’. I remembered seeing a poster for this book on the subway, I read the synopsis and I was intrigued.
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
The reviews weren’t bad either …
Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller!
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.
“Good choice,” the cashier of the store smiled when I went to pay. “There’s been a lot of hype over this book.”
I left the store withe the book tucked under my arm, happy in the knowledge that I had made a good choice. Or so I thought …
No sooner did I start reading the book or I thought … what is this … this is rubbish. I kept on going though, if others had such good things to say about the book, then maybe the story would pick up. It didn’t. If anything, it got worse.
On Amazon I read the reviews …
“The Woman in the Window is one of those rare books that really is unputdownable. The writing is smooth and often remarkable. The way Finn plays off this totally original story against a background of film noir is both delightful and chilling.” (Stephen King)
“A dark, twisty confection with an irresistible film noir premise. Hitchcock would have snapped up the rights in a heartbeat.” (New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware)
“Finn’s debut lives up to the hype … A riveting and mature first novel that stands out in a crowded genre.” (Library Journal)
After reading such lavish praise, I began to wonder what was wrong with me. If everybody loved this book, what did that say about my taste in literature?
Then again, I know from experience that these so-called critics can’t be trusted. What Stephen King and Ruth Ware had to say, you can’t really believe because they’re not going to criticize a fellow writer. Good manner dictate that they must be supportive.
As for the so called professional reviewers … I never believe a word of what they say. Whether it’s a book, a movie or a play … they nearly always have nothing but good to say.
So, I had a look on Amazon what real readers had to say …
"I love a good domestic/psychological mystery. Lately I have been disappointed. This book seemed so promising, published with high praise from writers I trust like Gillian Flynn and Louise Penny. There were 5 star reviews by readers. What could go wrong.? As I read it an old song by the Who kept going through my head, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
"So boring. Kept waiting for the story to start.
I am 130 pages in and not sure if I will continue."
"The characters are not very likable or interesting and now I am losing interest. Not sure if I will continue or not, so many good reviews though so maybe it gets better."
There was another very detailed negative review, but that has since been removed so couldn’t copy that one.
In addition, there are indeed some very good 5-star reviews, which left me wondering … did those people read the same book I did? They called the story ‘riveting’, ‘thrilling’ and ‘twisted’. I found it childish and annoying.
The main character, Anna, is not exactly a sympathetic one. She suffers from agoraphobia and is an alcoholic. All she does all day is guzzle wine, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late night ‘snack’.
This alone bothered the hell out of me. Why did every wine she drinks have to be named and described? Did he get a fee from a liquor store to advertise alcohol? When someone smokes critics and people alike are quick to jump down the smokers’ throat, because oeh smoking causes lung cancer. But nobody seems the least bit bothered by the constant drinking of characters in books and movies. Shouldn’t it be pointed out that alcohol causes high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, not to mention liver cancer?
In addition to her alcoholism, Anna watches black and white movies. A. J. Finn obviously has a love for these old movies because the book is peppered with their titles and plots. Every single chapter has movie titles in it, or a reference to a well known person.
So, eventually I thought … to hell with it. Life's too short to waste it on this rubbish. I took ‘The Woman in the Window’ back to the bookstore and moved on to something else. Safe to say, I’ll never pick up another book from A. J. Finn again.
I find it absolutely baffling that so many manuscripts get rejected, yet this one got published. Does A. J. Finn have connections in the publishing industry?
As for the critics who praised this story … they should be prosecuted for misleading information and lying through their teeth.