Friday Book Whimsy: The Woman in the Window

I love Alfred Hitchcock movies, and Rear Window, starring the adorable James Stewart and a stunning Grace Kelly, is one of my favorites. Being one who will “write” a story about someone after just a quick observance, I always loved that he put together – and solved – an entire murder mystery just via what was really just voyeurism. I can overlook the tad bit of creepiness involved.

Because of my love of that movie, the plot of the novel which was purported to be the next Girl on a Train or Gone Girl grabbed my attention. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn seemed to be right up my alley. From the first pages, the plot grabbed ahold of me and it never let go.

Anna Fox spends her days in her New York City apartment where she has become a victim of her own agoraphobia. When she isn’t watching old movies and drinking way too much wine, she is peering out her windows watching her neighbors. Just like James Stewart in Rear Window, Anna believes she witnesses a murder.

The police don’t believe her; in fact, they think she’s pretty crazy, because it seems the woman she claims she saw murdered never actually existed. The man she believes killed his wife disavows that woman’s existence, and introduces her to his actual wife. Their son seems scared, but supports his dad’s claims. What the hell?

Anna pursues the matter, though fully unable to venture even a few feet out her door. The more she digs, the more the reader learns about Anna herself. The twists and turns in this absolutely gripping thriller are unpredictable and made me shout out loud in dismay. How could I have missed this? The ending, while wholly unpredictable, wasn’t the biggest surprise this reader faced in this clever book.

The Woman in the Window is the author’s debut novel, and it is a mighty good first effort. If you like thrillers or are a fan of Rear Window, grab this book and settle in as soon as possible.

Here is a link to the book.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Back when I was a little girl, television didn’t run nonstop like it does now. There were only a few networks – CBS, NBC, ABC, maybe a few local stations – and they signed on early in the morning, and signed off at midnight or so with a hearty playing of the National Anthem. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Anyway, because networks didn’t run on a 24-hour schedule, movies were uncommon on searchTV. The Wizard of Oz ran once a year, at which time I planted myself on the gray carpeted floor right in front of the TV without moving for the entire movie. Once Dad broke down and bought us our first color television, the moment when Dorothy woke to find Oz in technicolor glory was unbelievably COOL.

But when I was really little, the only time most movies were on TV was late at night, long after I was tucked into the double bed next to my sister Jen. However, when I was probably 11 or 12, Mom told me that I had to go to bed at the same time as Jen on Saturday night, which was probably around 10. But if I could stay awake until she fell sound asleep, and further, could sneak out of bed without waking her, I could get up and watch the late night movie. Game on! I can still vividly recall inching my way to the edge of the bed and oh-so-carefully rolling out as quiet as a churchmouse, praying that I didn’t hear, “Where are you going, Kris?”

220px-born_yesterdayIt was one of the times that I managed to stay awake that I was able to watch a movie that I remember that my mom loved called Born Yesterday, starring Judy Holliday. The single thing that I remember from that movie was a scene in which Holliday’s character, a ditzy blond named Billie (who ultimately turned out to be not so ditzy) is playing gin rummy with her rotten-to-the-core boyfriend, and she drives him completely crazy as she gets ready to play the game. She moves her cards around. She messes with her hair. She picks up every card he lays down, and moves her cards around some more. And of course she eventually says, “Gin.” It’s a completely ridiculously funny scene. I remember that my mom laughed and laughed and laughed as she watched that scene. To this day, when I am playing gin rummy and I start moving my cards to the correct position, I think about Born Yesterday. Enjoy this clip……

Now, prepare for the arrival of the Get Off My Lawn Crabby Kris.

Having been duly warned, I think many of you will agree with me that movies just aren’t as fun as they used to be. I love the old movies like Born Yesterday, His Girl Friday, Roman Holiday, The African Queen, Rear Window, The Philadelphia Story and The Apartment (my all-time favorite).

Now that thanks to this recent blog post, you all know why Bill is a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild, let’s talk about movies today. The relationship between movies today and Bill’s participation in the Screen Actors’ Guild is, of course, that he gets to screen movies in which actors will be considered for SAG awards. The movies considered by SAG are often the same as those considered for other awards such as Golden Globe or Academy Awards. And what have I learned over the past number of years since he’s been screening movies? I have learned that the powers-that-be in Hollywood like some really sad and depressing movies. I mean slit-your-wrist depressing. Year after year, this seems to be true.

And the 2016 movies that we have watched thus far are no different. We saw Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, the story of Jackie Kennedy in the days following the assassination. And then we watched Manchester on the Sea, which about did me in. I considered sticking my head in a gas oven, but happily, our oven is electric.

They are both contenders for many awards this year, particularly Manchester on the Sea. But without giving away the plot, I will tell you that my reaction to Manchester was that it was a very believable, but a very sad movie. The acting was quite good. The story was realistic. As always, at its conclusion, Bill asked me what I thought. I told him that I believed every part of that movie. I believe that a teenager would act just as the teenager in the movie acted. I believe that a man who went through what Casey Affleck’s character went through would behave just as he did.

But here’s the thing. I don’t want to believe in my movie. I want my movie to take me away someplace unbelievable. I want to laugh at a ridiculous scene where a ditzy blond is playing gin rummy. I want to sing along with Gene Kelly in the rain. I want to hang off the bow of the Titanic with Kate Winslet. I don’t want to see President Kennedy’s brains splattered onto Natalie Portman’s pink suit or try to find meaning in my life after losing everyone I love.

The good news is that we have yet to see Hidden Figures and La-La Land. I am optimistic.

This post linked to Grammy’s Grid.