“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn / Crown Books, 415 pages
Chances are you’ve already read a glowing review of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” so I’m not going to give away many details in this review. I suggest you start on page one. “Gone Girl,” like Flynn’s previous novel, “Dark Places,” is easy to read if you like morbid, psychological drama. This is a rare feat – a gritty book with literary sensibilities crossing over from indie-bookstore bestseller to national bestseller. Needless to say, “Gone Girl” will undoubtedly be fast-tracked to film. It’s connecting with too many readers. It’s hype is real.
“Gone Girl” is the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, and starts with Nick making a casual remark about the shape of his wife’s head. An ordinary observation from a man on his fifth wedding anniversary, except his wife has just disappeared. Nick and Amy were both writers living in New York, until both were laid off. The story backtracks to tell you about the entire arc of their marriage so far, through firsthand accounts from Nick and Amy, from New York to Missouri, from happy to miserable, from rich to middle-class, and everywhere in between. Flynn creates instant tension by constantly shifting events back and forth through time, and through Nick and Amy, our unreliable narrators. Obviously Nick is a suspect in his wife’s dissappearance, but was Amy murdered, or is she just gone?
The beauty of “Gone Girl” is in its minimalism. This is a story about two people and their families and very few friends. Flynn wisely leaves out unnecessary sub-plots and her pacing is perfect. From page one, we get an insight from Nick about private life versus performance, when you wake up and face other people – it’s showtime. Here, we are taken inside a marriage and get to see its inner workings and grim mechanics. We get day-to-day accounts from Nick after Amy disappears, and Amy’s diary entries leading up to her disappearance. Are they telling the truth, or performing? Flynn pulls the rug out from under you several times and your perception of Nick and Amy is always in question.
I can recommend “Gone Girl” for fans of Bret Easton Ellis, Arthur Phillips, and Stephen King. Like King, Flynn hurls the story at you and it becomes impossible to ignore. “Gone Girl” is a tightrope walk of a novel. A believable tale about ordinary people caught in the dark side of love, and going through the motions. Expect the unexpected, now go read the book.