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!

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Coversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
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Conversations with Friends has been on my reading list for a good few months. I’ve been slowly working my way through my list and stored it on my phone. However I’ve accidentally deleted it somewhere along the way, much to my horror, so I am desperately trying to remember what was on there.
Conversations with Friends is like reading your friend’s diary. It’s an intimate portrayal of a fragile friendship which is full of love but the dynamics can change so easily.
Frances is a self conscious twenty one year old who is at university in Dublin and spends her life writing poetry. Her friend and former lover Bobbi is the exact opposite of Frances, self assured and self obsessed. When they meet married couple Nick and Melissa one evening their friendship and lives face the ultimate test. Frances and Nick embark on an affair, neither of them voicing them true feelings or fighting for each other. Nick is quite a wet character who I just wanted to shake. He’s been surrounded by strong women and doesn’t know what to do when he encounters Frances, who needs some guidance along the way. Previously he’s relied on women to give him the guidance.
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Nick is an actor and knows that his wife has embarked on numerous affairs. Initially I thought he was with Frances to try and get one up on his wife but as the affair continues it becomes clear that deep down Nick does have feelings for Frances which tests the marriage and Frances and Bobbi’s friendship.
This novel is so raw and at times this feels like your are intruding into the character’s lives. I loved this book and it’s rare to find an author that does create such real characters.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

I was doing work experience at Little Brown publishers a couple of weeks after news broke that Robert Galbraith was actually J K Rowling. I remember wanting to get my hands on a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling however it wasn’t meant to be. Fast forward a few years later and I’ve finally read it.

I watched the tv adaption and really enjoyed it, however missed the last episode and never found out what happened so when reading the book there was still an element of mystery left!

What struck me about the book is the level of detail it goes into. There are other threads in the novel however the main focus is finding out who murdered model and socialite Luna Landry. Each suspect and connection to Luna is meticulously questioned.

Cormorant Strike has bills mounting up in his detective agency and is sleeping in the office, however decides to take on temp Robin to help him with his administrative work. When Luna’s brother asks Strike to investigate his sister’s murder, the detective jumps at the chance and Robin relishes the opportunity to find out what has happened to the celebrity.

Throughout the book I found there was no leaning towards one character playing a part in Luna’s death and when it was revealed at the end I was quiet shocked. I loved the difference between the dark and depressing world Strike lives in and the glamourous life Luna and her pals led.

I did enjoy the book and read it in lots of small sections rather than having a good amount of time to read a hundred of pages in one sitting. However on reflection because it is so in depth it’s not something you can read a lot of in one go.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Normally when there is buzz around a book and I go to read it, i end up thinking it’s a lot of old rubbish. I think sub consciously I don’t want to conform to the general opinion. However, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is an incredible book. I cannot remember many times that once finishing a book, wanting to read it all over again. I would quite happily have done so with this book.

Eleanor spends her days working as an administrator, keeps her head down and doesn’t speak to anyone. She spends evenings on her own and her weekends drinking herself into oblivion. She speaks to her mother on a Wednesday evening, without fail.

Her life is pretty unremarkable and slightly sad, until she witnesses a man collapse in the middle of the street with her colleague Raymond. She is forced to deal with things outside of her comfort zone. She takes a liking to a rockstar who sounds like an absolute ass, however not having much contact with other people she thinks he’s wonderful even though she’s never met him.

Raymond and Eleanor strike up a close friendship and he makes he realise that she needs to change and try new things. He helps her to forget her past with her abusive mother and violent boyfriend.

I think what makes the novel so great is the fact that Eleanor is not your typical protagonist – she’s not super pretty, isn’t hugely ambitious or successful, she’s a woman with Asperger’s trying to get on with life the only way she knows how. The novel made me laugh and want to cry. I would throughly recommend this novel and can easily say this is the best book I’ve read so far this year.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

I love Liane Moriarty’s novels – I’ve read Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty and they are the ultimate chick lit- thrillers, if there is such a thing.

The Husband’s Secret is in the same vein. Cecilia’s life is a little too perfect – she has three wonderful, daughters, a loving husband, John-Paul, who earns loads, the big house and every minute of her life is meticulously planned. Something big is going to happen.

Rachel is still realing from the murder of her daughter, Janey, some twenty years ago. She dotes on her grandson Jacob however is left distraught when her son and daughter in law reveal they are taking him to New York. Rachel is convinced Conner Whitby murdered her daughter but there’s not enough evidence to convict him.

Tess runs to her mother’s when she finds out that her husband and cousin have fallen in love. She takes their son and then embarks on an affair with Connor.

* spoiler alert *

When Cecilia is cleaning out the loft she finds a letter addressed to her which states she must only open it after the death of her husband. Intrigued, she eventually decides to open the letter which reveals that in a silly moment of rage John-Paul actually killed Janey. Janey was dating both Connor Whitby and John-Paul and when she broke things off with John-Paul he strangled her.

However the last chapter of the novel reveals that if events and fate had taken a differnt turn some things could have been avoided.

With holiday season nearly upon us, this is the perfect beach read.