The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

The Woman in the Window by A J Finn

It took me over a month to read The Woman in the Window. I’m the type of reader who can only dedicate themselves to one book at a time, however due to going on holiday and wanting to have more baggage allowance for clothes I decided to take a smaller book with me, hence the month long read.

I like getting my hands on a hardback book because I feel like a proper reader with one.

I was a bit disappointed by The Woman in the Window, I’d heard great things and the fact it is being turned in a film I thought it was going to have that Gone Girl-esquire suspense and drama. However I felt it was a bit of a slow burner. The ending does have a spectacular twist and the main narrator proves to be ridiculously unreliable, keeping you guessing. In my eyes these were perhaps it’s saving qualities.

Anna lives in an apartment in New York. A former child psychologist, she is now petrified to leave her house and her drinking habits have spiralled out of control. She spends her days and nights watching her neighbours and marking their every move and offering advice on an online chat forum.

What I found was odd, was how her husband and daughter would phone her yet never visit her and what event caused her to not want to step outside her front door.

One night she sees new neighbours Alistair and Jane along with their son Ethan move into the apartment opposite. Not long after their move Jane knocks on her door and they have a fun evening together getting to know each other, playing games and drinking. Several weeks later when Anna sees what she believes to be Alistair murdering his wife and Jane covered in blood she calls the police. But when they question her, Jane appears with Alistair but it’s not the Jane she met previously.

It’s here we start to question Anna’s reliability. Anna finds pictures on her phone of her in her sleep leading her to think there has been an intruder in her home. The police refuse to believe her and it’s then we learn why. Her husband and daughter were actually killed in a car accident. Anna was driving the car and her and her husband had an argument when he found a message on Anna’s phone indicating she was having an affair. The car rolled down a bank into the snow and plunged into obscurity from the road her husband and daughter eventually froze to death.

Her visions of Jane’s apparent murder are put down to post traumatic stress.

The twist comes when Ethan visits Anna and admits he killed Jane, his birth mum, and plans to kill Anna. He admits he broke into her house and took pictures and also posed as people in need of help on the chat room. A tussle ensues and Ethan meets a grissley end.

It’s not the most compelling novel I’ve read but the twist at the end does save it.

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The Party by Elizabeth Day

My description of The Party by Elizabeth Day is a classy thriller. The book is full of suspense and keeps you guessing until the end.

Martin Gilmour and Ben Fitzmaurice have been best friends since their school days but they couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds.

Ben is from British aristocracy and continues after his school days to mix with the British elite which is demonstrated at his 40th birthday party when he invites celebrities and even the prime minster to the bash. Martin meanwhile grows up in a single parent family after the death of his mother. He’s emotionally bullied by his mother and when he’s sent away to boarding school and meets Ben, he sets his sights on becoming his friend. He tactically bumps into him in the corridor or a overhears a discussion on what music he’s into, just so he can strike up a conversation on their supposed mutual interests. Eventually Martin gets his way and the two becme firm friends and he even ends up staying with Ben’s family for school holidays. It sounds so lovely but there is unnerving underlying tension which Day so brilliantly captures. Ben often hints at his annoyance over Martin’s obsession with him and even calls him Little Shadow and Martin hints to the reader at his love and infatuation with Ben.

On one drunken evening at a society party at university the pair jump in a car with Ben’s latest squeeze and with Ben at the wheel they crash. Martin takes the blame and Ben’s dad gives him a rather generous sum of money.

The novel flits between the past and what got them to present day – Martin winding up in a police station after Ben’s birthday bash. Due to Martin’s obsession with Ben, his marriage to Lucy is rather a marriage of convenience. The men’s friendship is incredibly fickle and when Ben decides his friendship to Martin is no longer good for his image and wishes to pay him off as he will be running for MP, Lucy hits Serena, Martin’s wife, over the hit and knocks her out. All is kept hush hush as it wouldn’t be good for Ben’s image.

Pretty much all the charcaters in this book are unlikable, yet the book is incredibly captivating and made me want to read to find out more about the difuctional world they live in. I really liked this boo

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

When Reese Witherspoon recommends a book on her Instagram you know its going to be good.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an amazing book about morals, belief and hope and for me had little feels of a Jodi Picoult or Liane Moriaty novel.

Mr and Mrs Richardson and their four children live in Shaker Heights, a stepford wife type area. Mrs Richardson’s family has been there for generations and she has done things by the book – married her childhood sweetheart, worked hard and now live comfortably. There are rules for everything. So when the bohemian Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive and rent one of the Richardson’s apartments the community takes notice.

Pearl strikes up a friendship with the Richardson children, in particular Lexie and Moody. Lexie, who has strong morals installed in her by her parents does everything by the book. So when she falls pregnant with long term boyfriend Brian, panic ensues. She asks Pearl to come with her for an abortion and gives Pearl’s details to the doctors. So when Pearl and ladies man Trip Richardson start sleeping together and journalist Mrs Richardson finds out she’s supposedly has an abortion she tells Mia. However Mia has kept Lexie’s secret that it was actually her.

Babies and motherhood are at the centre of this novel. Mia works multiple jobs to make a living, she’s a trained photographer, cleans for Mrs Richardson and works at a restaurant along with Bebe. Bebe, a single mother suffering from post natal depression and a lack of money, abandons her baby outside a fire station. The McCullough’s, friends of the Richardson’s have been trying for a baby for 10 years and when they hear there is a Chinese baby up for adoption, Bebe’s baby, they jump at the chance. Bebe, now in a better frame of mind, later decides she wants her baby back and Mia encourages her to fight for her child. A custody battle ensues.

Hurt at how Mia’s encouragement might mean the McCullough’s lose their baby, Mrs Richardson uses her journalistic skills to dig up some dirt on Mia.

Mia no longer speaks to her family. She was a talented photographer at university and won a scholarship but when the scholarship isn’t renewed for a second year she worries about where her fees are going to come from. A chance meeting with a Wall Street banker brings her some much needed cash. The banker and his wife want her to carry their baby for $10,000. Mia eventually agrees however when her beloved brother Warren is killed in a car crash and her parents turn their back on Mia for being a surrogate she tells the Ryans she’s lost their baby and runs. That baby is Pearl.

Mia has to run again when Mrs Richardson finds out the truth. But Mia’s actions with Bebe highlight that although she did wrong by taking someone’s child, she doesn’t want to see it happen to someone else.

It’s an incredibly powerful book which I finished in three days – hello holiday! I really didn’t want it to end. It questions whether it’s nature or nurture that makes you a mother. The book brings up all sorts of topics – race, biology, beliefs and what really is right or wrong. I loved this book!