At last, a popular book that lived up to the hype!
Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is narrated in alternating chapters by Nick Dunne and Amy Elliot-Dunne. Nick begins by telling us that his wife of five years has disappeared on their anniversary. Amy’s diary fills us in on how they met in New York. At the halfway point, Amy herself tells us the real story.
Nick and Amy were writers in New York. Nick wrote for a magazine. Amy wrote personality quizzes. When the recession hit, they both lost their jobs. Then Amy’s parents asked for her trust fund back to cover their investment losses. They moved back to Nick’s hometown in Carthage (the other one), Missouri to care for his terminally ill mother and try to start over. And then Amy goes missing. As if things weren’t bad enough for Nick, evidence starts to turn up that makes it look like Nick did terrible things during the year before the disappearance. By the time Amy starts telling us where she went after she left Carthage, you’ll hate Nick.
From the halfway point to the end of Gone Girl, Flynn piles twist on deception on bombshell. Nick finds himself outmaneuvered at every turn. Amy finds that lift on the run, out among the real sharks of the world, is not as easy as she expected it to be. Flynn keeps upping the stakes. Just when I thought there was nowhere else for the story to go, Flynn managed to surprise and shock me. I really want someone else I know to read this book so that I can talk about it with them.
When I finished, I was left with the thought that Amy is the reason some men absolutely hate women. I won’t list all the things she did and lied about, because I have to leave some mystery for people who haven’t read it yet. At one point, Nick says that he has become a “one woman misogynist” because of Amy. She is a sociopath. I think she would have been a villain even without her upbringing as the model for Amazing Amy, a character created by her parents for a series of children’s books. Amazing Amy always does the right thing. The books have quizzes that are supposed to help children learn how to make moral choices. That is too much pressure for a child who isn’t a budding psychopath. Amy as a character completely steals the show in Gone Girl.
The other thing that Flynn nails in Gone Girl is the portrayal of the media. For large sections of the book, it doesn’t matter so much what the police think of Nick so much as what the media thinks of him. Ellen Abbott, who hosts a talk show/news show that specializes in stories of women victimized by men. She’s almost Nick’s enemy as much as Amy is. Nick’s lawyer points out that there’s no such thing as an unprejudiced jury anymore because of the media. Everyone makes up their mind based on what the media tells them.
Audiobook Notes: Gone Girl is the first audiobook I have listened to in ages. I used to listen to them on long road trips until I realized that concentrating on the book was making me drive ten miles under the speed limit. I signed up for a subscription to Audible because I wanted a bedtime story. I don’t know if it was the reader’s interpretation of Amy’s lines, but I really was suspicious of Amy from the first. When her diary entry tells the story of their meeting at a party, I found that Amy was not the kind of person I could like. She was arch, sly, and arrogant. I was fooled by her later diary entries. When the turn came, I felt so vindicated. The readers changed their voices to play other characters and they put a wealth of emotion into the reading that it really was a performance. I’m glad that I picked this book for my first choice.