Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.
What are you thinking, Amy? The question I've asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do? -from Gone Girl, page 3-
But I may be wrong, I may be very wrong. Because sometimes, the way he looks at me? That sweet boy from the beach, man of my dreams, father of my child? I catch him looking at me with those watchful eyes, the eyes of an insect, pure calculation, and I think: This man might kill me. -from Gone Girl, page 205-
Nick and Amy Dunne have been married exactly five years when Amy suddenly disappears from their home leaving behind a suspiciously staged scene, blood evidence and clues for a "treasure hunt." Nick has no real alibi and his lies to police are beginning to make him look like a killer. Meanwhile, Amy's diary reveals a woman who longs to be the best possible wife, but who fears her husband. As the evidence piles up against Nick and television shows spin the case, it looks like an arrest will soon happen. But is everything all that it seems? Could Nick be innocent? And if so, what has happened to Amy?
Gillian Flynn has written a smart psychological thriller about a marriage which has gone terribly awry. Gone Girl is a black comedy of sorts. Neither Nick nor Amy are reliable narrators and Flynn moves back and forth from each of their points of view to build a story with lots of sharp twists and turns. The drama unfolds, not only through Amy and Nick's limited narration, but also on the television news shows which supply their own spin. The novel provides a satirical look at social media, the US justice system, and modern marriage.
I wasn't quite sure if I would like this novel, but I was pleasantly surprised at its clever wit and well-developed characters. Readers will find little to like about Amy and Nick -- two very dysfunctional people who cultivate their toxic relationship despite its psychopathy. Flynn writes skillfully, and manages to keep the reader turning the pages in spite of her characters' poisonous personalities. I was reminded of Louise Erdrich's brilliant novel Shadow Tag which keeps the reader off balance while its characters manipulate and damage each other.
Gone Girl is not perfect -- there are some plot points which require readers to suspend reality in order to believe the story line (especially during the novel's final pages). I was easily able to do just that, which I think speaks to the exceptional character development early on.
Gone Girl is suspenseful, original and surprisingly funny. Readers who enjoy psychological thrillers and twisty plots will find much to love about this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ : Four stars out of five.
This novel has been nominated for the 2013 Edgar Award - Best Novel and long listed for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction.
Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".
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