AJ Finn’s thriller The Woman in the Window was the must-read of 2018—everybody was touting it as a literary Rear Window updated for the modern age. As a fan of Hitchcock and similarly-paced female noir novels like Gone Girl and Big Little Lies, I looked forward to seeing what was in store for me here.
The tale follows Anna, an agoraphobic, alcoholic former psychologist obsessed with the new neighbors across the way from her house. She watches them through the window and imagines what their lives must be like. Before long, Anna meets the wife and mother, Jane, and the two women strike up an instant, easy friendship. One night not long after, Anna, still eavesdropping, sees Jane getting stabbed. She calls the police, but Jane and her husband, Alistair, insist no attack occurred… but the woman claiming to be Jane isn’t the same person Anna met. Here the mystery unfolds, making the reader wonder who’s the most insane character and why everyone is lying.
By writing from Anna’s point of view only, Finn crafts a fascinating and gripping inner world of someone who may not be the most reliable narrator. Gradually we learn the source of Anna’s troubles, not the least of which is agoraphobia, and why she’s separated from her husband but not divorced. Anna relies heavily on her community of online friends, and of course, her best friends—wine and pills. But just because she’s a bit messed up, does that mean no one was stabbed in the house across the street? The reveal, when it comes, is a great payoff.
Before the book even came out—advance reviews were glowing—the film version was put into production. The Woman in the Window stars Amy Adams alongside Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Julianne Moore. What a dream cast! However, test screenings shown to film lovers were kind of a nightmare. After a poor test audience reaction in late 2019, reshoots were set, and a May 2020 release date was announced. The pandemic caused further delay, and now it looks like the film will skip the big screen entirely and go right to Netflix. While I’m wondering how the film might compare to the book, I’m encouraged by the cast and the fact that the screenplay is written by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracey Letts (Killer Joe) and is directed by BAFTA winner Joe Wright (Darkest Hour).