Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
|Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
|Reviewer: Robin Stevens
|Summary: This is an exceptionally taut, twisty and twisted domestic thriller that you’ll read in a day and then talk about for months.
|Date: January 2013
There’s a distressing moment in any long-term relationship where you realise that, in practice, happily ever after looks a lot like an eternity of small, snarling arguments about who forgot to buy food, who should take out the rubbish and who is responsible for that mouldering pile of clothes in the corner of the bedroom. Domestic bliss is often more like very polite guerrilla warfare between two people who love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives fighting about it. You and your partner are absolutely in each other’s pockets – but no matter how close you are, there’s always one last barrier you can’t break down. You aren’t them, and they aren’t you, and so you can never truly know what’s really going on inside that well-known head.
Gone Girl takes that niggling worry we all have about how well we really know our nearest and dearest and plays on it spectacularly in this taut, twisty and twisted marital thriller. Told from two perspectives, Amy Elliot Dunne’s and her husband Nick Dunne’s, the story starts on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. The Dunnes eat breakfast together as normal, but when Nick comes home from work, he finds his front door open, his living room a mess and his wife missing…
Gone Girl is all about how deceptive appearances can be. At first, Amy and Nick’s marriage seems happy, they seem like a normal couple and this seems like a normal tragic disappearance. But as you turn the pages (and you’ll turn those pages faster and faster) you realise that not one of those statements is true. Has Nick, as the police suspect, really killed his wife – and if he has, was he justified?
Nick’s present-day narrative is interspersed with diary entries from Amy that span the whole of their relationship. You’re taken on a tour of the Dunnes, from Day 1 to The Day Of and beyond, and as both stories unfold you realise you’ve stepped into a devious game of cat and mouse – only it’s impossible to work out which one of the couple is playing the cat. Both of them are completely unreliable narrators, not to mention fairly unlikeable people, but this only makes their story even more brilliantly compelling. You need to know what it is they’re not telling you and you’re willing to watch them destroy each other in the process.
Gone Girl turns out to be unsettlingly brilliant about the realities of commitment. Amy and Nick’s problems are both extreme and unique, but at the same time their monstrously insane situation only serves to make you wonder how great the gap between them and you really is. Sure, you may never have come home to a bloody kitchen floor and a missing spouse, but how well do you really know your partner? How well do they know you? When you’re in the middle of one of the thousands of little arguments that make up your relationship, what is the person opposite you really thinking? And are they, really, the man or woman you’ve always imagined they were?
This book makes you jumpy. You’ll re-evaluate a lot of your own assumptions, and not in a positive way. It’s so tense that the suspense it breeds climbs right out of its pages and creeps into your brain. Along with Nick and Amy, you’ll struggle, and doubt, and begin to distrust even the simplest of things.
What Flynn has written must be very close to the best possible exploration of the simple but terrifying idea that your loved one might not love you back. It’s also one of the best examples of the domestic thriller genre that I’ve ever read. Astonishingly dark, and with a twist in the tale at the end of almost every chapter, this is a book that you’ll steam through in a day and then want to talk about for months.
If you want to raise your heart-rate even further, read Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is in the Richard and Judy Book Club Spring 2013.
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