I remember shortly after its release, Gone Girl became the novel that everyone was talking about. This usually puts me off reading a book though, because I'm always worried that it won't live up to the hype. Nevertheless, when I saw a copy on the book swaps shelf at our holiday hotel in Lanzarote this summer, I couldn't resist picking it up. I've only just got around to reading it though, and I have mixed feelings about it.
It is undoubtedly a very cleverly written book. Gillian Flynn knows how to nudge the reader along in whichever direction she chooses, totally manipulating their view of the characters. The plot revolves around a couple, Nick and Amy Dunne, who should be celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. Instead, Nick arrives home to signs of a struggle and his wife is missing. He soon becomes the police's main (and in fact only) suspect.
The book is narrated in alternate chapters by Nick and Amy. Amy's voice comes through in a series of diary entries, written before her disappearance, and we immediately sense that, despite her best efforts, there were serious cracks in their marriage. Having given up her job and her roots in Manhattan, moving back to her husband's Missouri hometown to look after his ailing parents, we nevertheless get the impression that she is a pretty unreasonable, bitter and needy person. Nick has an awful lot of faults too though, and his reactions often seem strange and out of synch. As the book progresses, it soon becomes clear that they can't both be telling the truth and the reader has to try to pick through their separate, subjective narratives to unravel the truth of the situation. I was half right but there were still some big surprises in store towards the end.
It's a highly original and well-mastered plot. I did find that the first half of the book dragged but I was also aware that all of this background work (for the author AND the reader) was necessary for the rest of the novel to work. Another aspect that slightly irked me was that I didn't actually like or empathise with either of the characters - Amy and Nick both have their good and bad sides, but ultimately they both came across as selfish, insensitive children, capable of throwing their toys out of the pram when they didn't get their own way. Amy thinks she's a princess and Nick has anger issues. If they're both as bad as each other, maybe they both deserve whatever they get ... but I can't tell you what that is without spoiling the drama !
star rating : 4/5