A.J. Finn’s debut novel follows the trajectory of a lot of modern novels. A woman (or middle-aged ‘girl’) suffering from some sort of trauma, alienated from family and friends, turning into an alcoholic, popping in a lot of pills, passes time by involving herself in the lives of others: snooping on them, stalking them, gathering information about them via the internet… in short, becoming a total nuisance.
Anna Fox is no different. Separated from her husband and little girl, she passes her time in a palatial NY mansion by snooping on her neighbours. One family, esp, holds her attention, that of the Russells who live across her but whose rooms are so close to Anna’s that she is always able to peer through. Is that how the Upper Class lives in NY? Without any privacy? What is the use of buying those millionaire-mansions if you are forever being viewed? Anna even clicks photos of them! When did voyeurism become an art form?!
Anna, who is suffering from both physical and mental ailments, has weekly visits from a masseur and a psychiatrist though Anna herself is a child psychologist who dispenses free advice on a web-site. She feels that Ethan, teenage son of the new neighbours, the Russells, is being abused and so starts spying on them. She is also visited by Ethan’s mother, Jane, who tells her that her husband, Alistair is good but controlling. A few days later, Anna sees Jane shouting at somebody and then being stabbed. Anna who suffers from agoraphobia tries to rush towards their home but collapses and the police, of course, don’t believe her, when she wakes up in a hospital later. Whom can Anna turn to?
Found nothing new in the book. There is a twist in the middle which I had already guessed, nor was I impressed by the twist in the end. Like the girls/ women in trains and cabins, Anna is also a boring character without any life of her own. Unreliable narrator, which used to be such a great literary device, has been corrupted to such an extent that it has lost all its novelty and the use of present tense does not add anything to the book. However, people have liked the book a lot so perhaps you might enjoy it too. If you have read the book, do let me know why the first chapter was devoted to the Millers?
First Line: Her husband’s almost home.
Publication Details: 2018. London: Harper Collins, 2018.
Other Opinions: Crime by the Book