Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl – by Gillian Flynn

Published 2013 by Phoenix

Orion Books Ltd.

Copyright 2012

ISBN 978-0-7538-2766-6

“Who are you? What have we done to each other?”

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

I purchased this book to have something to read on a long flight (8 hours), and it held me pretty much the entire way through. The story is told from the viewpoint of both Nick Dunne and his wife Amy; each taking turns as the reader learns the story of their romance and life together up until the ‘Day Of’, the day when Amy disappears. While ostensibly a mystery novel, the book is really attempting to give readers a peek into the private life of a marriage – who we are with our spouses over the days, weeks and years of a relationship, and how our feelings for each other ebb and flow through time.

At various times I both liked and hated both of the main characters in this book, which is an indulgent experience and really made me feel like I was close to the story, hearing about it like gossip over a big glass of wine from each party in turn. Like the intimacy of a small town, where everyone knows pretty much all the private stories about everyone else. Sympathies and judgements flow freely toward both Nick and Amy, so much so that by the end of the story I wasn’t really sure whose side I was on or how I felt about how their story ended. While normally this would irritate me, in this case it felt very true to life – having experienced such ups and downs with the characters it would have felt too tidy to have all of their flaws wrapped up neatly in a package just to allow me some resolution.

On top of the story of their marriage, Gone Girl is also a mystery with some unpredictable twists which were pleasantly surprising. Any time I read a mystery novel I find myself dissecting the author’s words – a small detail here, a phrase slipped in there, to try to guess what the dramatic ‘twist’ will be. So I always enjoy when an author can surprise me, and this one did.

All in all, a good story that is definitely worth a read.

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