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A psychological thriller that hits close to home

When lockdown restrictions were brought down last spring, I found myself in a dilemma. I hadn’t read a proper book that wasn’t on my course list in over a year. I had become a lover of tech giants such as Twitter and Instagram, glued to my screen sometimes up to five hours a day going wild on TikTok. Itching to get back into reading as a hobby, I ordered four random books from Amazon. One of those was a psychological thriller: The Woman in the Window

With most of the country being forced to stay indoors, it felt all too familiar reading a story about a woman living with agoraphobia. The book focuses on Dr Anna Fox, a child psychiatrist who spies on her neighbours from her window whilst drinking copious amounts of red wine. Sound familiar? 

What’s more, our female heroine suffers from mental health issues. She has not left her flat in 10 months and lives alone with her cat. Quite the twist of fate. I couldn’t help but notice the casual connections between Anna’s habits and my day-to-day life. After all, lockdown has forced many students to be confined to a single box room with no support or social life for months - minus the pet cat. 

As his first debut novel, A. J. Finn did well to breathe new life into your average thriller noir. The plot was full of twists and turns, with a cliffhanger leaving me lost for words on the final page. As the reader, I was left guessing on countless occasions who the culprit was, which is everything you could want from a whodunit story. 

The only downside was that the first few chapters were incredibly difficult to get into. As I was reading about Anna’s repetitive routine of drinking, internet-surfing, eating and sleeping, my willingness to abandon the book grew. The storyline only picks up the pace when Anna witnesses a horrific crime and, well, the rest is just a guessing game. 

Despite being released in 2018, I believe this book is more relevant, timely, and poignant than ever. Getting out of the house for me is a crucial way to look after my mental wellbeing and, most importantly, to get regular exercise. But for many people like Anna Fox, going outside is not that simple. 

When restrictions eventually eased last summer, the thought of stepping out the front door for many Britons suddenly rang alarm bells. The message of “Stay at Home” had been driven into our brains as being the “new normal”. A fear of catching the virus and passing it on had suddenly led to hundreds sheltering in their homes for days, even weeks. Like Anna, we share the same comfort of staying indoors for our safety and security. 

If you fancy a light read filled with The Girl on the Train vibes, then this book is right up your street. It is perfect for Hitchcock lovers, and I am extremely excited to see it hit our Netflix screens this year. But be warned, it is practically a mirror of the current, crazy era we are in. The Woman in the Window (A.J. Finn) £6.99 paperback.


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