On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (Synopsis from Goodreads)
I read Gone Girl back in June 2012 and it was one of the reasons why I wanted to start a book blog. I wanted to share this amazing and haunting story with all who would listen. I reluctantly gave up my hard copy and passed it around to anyone who would read it and then bombarded them with questions like, “what part are you on?”, “can you believe he/she did that?”, “did you see that coming?”, “are you almost done so I can have my book back?”. This is the first book I read by Gillian Flynn and after reading it I went online to find everything I could about her and if she had any other books. They are equally as haunting and written so well, I couldn’t imagine a sane person writing them. But she seems to be pretty normal from the interviews I have seen her do. One comment she made struck a nerve and made these haunting books make sense for me. We see horrendous and baffling events take place on the news around the world and wonder, how does someone who seems so normal and put together do such heinous things? She takes those ideas and brings them to life in her works of fiction. You delve into the minds of these “people” involved and get a glimpse of what makes them tick. I became a huge fan of Gillian Flynn. This has to be one of my favorite books of 2012.
Psychological thrillers. They have been a favorite of mine since I can remember. Watching Alfred Hitchcock at my grandmother’s house was my introduction to the genre. I was reading Judy Blume, Choose Your Own Adventures, and Boxcar Children but nothing quite captivated my mind like watching his old black and white episodes on TV. They were part scary and terrifying and also brilliant and exhilarating. I felt like I was holding my breath while watching and then shocked when they ended abruptly. Gone Girl brought back that feeing of watching an Alfred Hitchcock show.
Okay, okay, the book. There has to be a balance of what to say without giving anything away…hmmm… This blog will never contain spoilers without proper warning. I want the new reader to go in not knowing what will happen and have to experience the shock and awe on their own.
“Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood.” -Tony Kushner, THE ILLUSION (opening quote from Gone Girl)
Gone Girls is written in three parts. In the first part the reader visits the home of Amy and Nick Dunne on their fifth wedding anniversary in Missouri. Amy is missing and nowhere to be found. Their home is now a crime scene and Nick has to prove his innocence with the help and support of his twin sister Margo. The chapters alternate between Nick’s present POV and Amy’s diary, being used as evidence. What you discover are two very different accounts of their marriage. How well do you know someone? Who do you believe? Does evidence and a diary outweigh Nick and Margo’s testimony? Even the police assigned to the case are wavering. The media always blames the spouse right away. Guilty until proven innocent. But is Nick guilty or the victim? The police begin to compile and interview possible suspects: obsessed ex-friend Hilary, ex-boyfriend/stalker Desi and neighbors. Amy’s famous author parents are also very involved setting up a call center which in turn attracts more “strangers” to set you off the scent. As the search continues, Nick is sent on a treasure hunt created by Amy in celebration of their fifth wedding anniversary. What he discovers along the way are hints into the real Amy’s psyche. Did he ever really know her?
“There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.” ~Margo
In part two, the investigation continues with more secrets revealed. But I can’t say much about the content only that it knocked the wind out of me, seriously. Didn’t see it coming. Blindsided. I read the beginning of part two and had to walk away and let it sink in. The “Cool Girl” speech? Brilliant!! Pages 222-225 are completely highlighted in my personal copy. Absolutely spot on characterization of how women reinvent themselves to be the “Cool Girl” to capture men’s attention and win the guy.
“Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you? ~Amy
Part three of Gone Girl wraps up the story with more dark and chilling moments that at times questions your sanity. You wonder if you ever really know someone and can’t imagine people actually behaving in such a way. But then your dark side takes over and you think, “yes, I believe people are capably of just about anything”. And I didn’t like the ending, at first. I had to sit awhile with it and then realize no other ending would have been appropriate for these two destructive, egocentric and hurtful people.
“I was told love should be unconditional. That’s the rule, everyone says so. But if love has no boundaries, no limits, no conditions, why should anyone try to do the right thing ever? If I know I am loved no matter what, where is the challenge? I am supposed to love Nick despite all his shortcomings. And Nick is supposed to love me despite my quirks. But clearly, neither of us does. It makes me think that everyone is very wrong, that love should have many conditions. Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional love is an undisciplined love, and as we all have seen, undisciplined love is disastrous.” ~Amy
Gillian Flynn is an amazing writer. Amazing is not even a good enough adjective for her chilling stories and believable, dark characters. Dark Places and Sharp Objects are equally worthy of your time. Once you are done with all three of her stand alone masterpieces, you will be eagerly waiting for her next release. What can she possibly come up with next?