Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”

Wow. That was intense.

I’m still shaking my head over Gone Girl. Yes, it is incredibly gripping. It has that…. that thing, where you just cannot let it go. Maybe it won’t let you go, because Gillian Flynn has written this inside-out murder mystery from the dual points of view of the protagonists. Who are also antagonists. And both of whom are egotists.

The Mississippi River plays a sinister part in the novel. Here it is in Hannibal, MO.

Yes, I think that’s it. There’s an urgency to this story-telling  — the chapters alternate in the voices of Nick Dunne and his wife Amy and they’re both desperate, desperate to convince you that they’re right. That what they did was justifiable. That they are, really, fundamentally lovable, despite it all.

But wow, talk about unreliable narrators! There’s Nick, the drop-dead handsome working-class Irish boy from Missouri who married the high-flyer, Amy Elliott. Amy who is brilliant, beautiful, sexy, wealthy, and…. gone. Gone from their depressing house in a failed housing development in a dying town on the Mississippi river. Vanished completely, leaving signs of a struggle, the door to the house wide open, a dress on the ironing board and the iron still on. Uh-oh. They always look at the husband first, right? Nick’s in trouble.

And you know, that’s about all I can tell you, except that this sidewinder of a plot kept totally jerking me around. And that as the book went on, both Nick and Amy crept away from being naturalistic Girl and Guy next door to more startling, less subtle, almost mythic characters, leaving behind a trail of secondary folk (Amy’s parents, Nick’s twin sister Margo, the cops) as the end of the book becomes almost a two-hander. Gillian Flynn controls the material the whole time and the result is totally compelling entertainment.

About carolwallace

I spend most of my time writing and reading. Most recent publications: the reissue of "To Marry an English Lord,"one of the inspirations for "Downton Abbey," and the historical novel "Leaving Van Gogh." I am too cranky to belong to a book group but I love the book-blogging community.
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13 Responses to Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”

  1. Erin O'Keefe says:

    I was debating about getting this, now I will – nothing like a good dark mystery
    to cheer the soul!

    • carolwallace says:

      Well — it is faintly creepy, but I so enjoyed Flynn’s craft that I was able to overlook that factor. Also the character of Nick’s sister Margo is fabulous fun.

  2. Judy Fireman says:

    I too just got highjacked by Gillian Flynn. Couldn’t put it down. I rarely read such books (thrillers?), so I was extra surprised at how compelling the book was. After the second, or was it the third, big jolt, I cancelled a dentist appointment and stayed with it til the end. Which of course was yet ANOTHER surprise. Now I’m convinced, and I’ll look for other Flynn books.

    • carolwallace says:

      Yes, Judy, I had to tear myself away from it repeatedly. And it was always simmering in the background. Did you feel the characters got less believable toward the end? Desi, for instance? And was that intentional?

      • Judy Fireman says:

        I agree that the characters, and the events, became less and less believable as the book wound down. You supeculate that perhaps this was intentional, which reminds me that you are often more charitable than I. My supposition was that the author suffered, as so many do, from the “Now what do I do?” syndrome. That cynical theory aside, I read every last page breathlessly–and felt completely satisfied by the veritable fatalism of the plot’s ending. Happily ever after indeed….

  3. carolwallace says:

    I guess I was thinking about some of the Victorian sensation novels, in the later plot twists: Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, where plausibility is tossed out the window once the author has set the reader on the hook. Could be Flynn’s model. As for the ending: it is as you say, completely satisfying.

  4. Angela says:

    Loved this book, Carol….well, maybe not “loved” but I couldn’t put it down and it kept me up way too late for a couple of nights. It’s so creepy and flat out weird, and does get pretty farfetched midway through, but absolutely compelling. Thanks for posting about it!

  5. carolwallace says:

    Angela, it’s nice to have confirmation that I’m not the only person who was gripped by “Gone Girl” — though clearly I am not! Thanks for commenting.

  6. Gillian Flynn has this uncanny way to write a nasty little story, doesn’t she? I first read SHARP OBJECTS, her debut, a few years ago on a two-day business trip to Vegas and every time I wasn’t in a meeting, I went back to my room to read. I might be the only person who has ever gone to Vegas, stayed at the Palms Hotel, and never once left the room to do anything other than read. 🙂

    • carolwallace says:

      Okay, I’m getting “Sharp Objects” for my next plane flight. As I was reading “Gone Girl” I was actually regretting that I was in a normal-life moment because that book is seriously distracting!

  7. jenspen says:

    Unlike most reviewers of this book I thought that one of the two main characters was a lot crazier and nastier than the other.

  8. Pingback: Follow my book blog, “Book Group of One” | | Carol Wallace BooksCarol Wallace Books

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