On the day that Amy vanishes, Nick admits that his beautiful, intelligent wife was unhappy. After losing their jobs, they'd quit trendy Brooklyn to tend to his unwell parents in the midwest. Nick borrowed money from Amy's trust fund to open a bar in his hometown while she moped in their McMansion, pining for the city. His current-day narration alternates with her diary, telling their backstory. Her witty, charming voice is more compelling than his whining denials. Still, you can't help feeling a bit sorry for him. Nick may be a cad, but is he a murderer?
Author Gillian Flynn breaks nearly every rule of narrative fiction, but somehow she gets away with it. Gone Girl has hovered near the top of The New York Times bestseller list since its release in June. The real mystery for me was how did the author do it. Her narrators are unlikable and unreliable, and the plot twists contort and overrun the characters. The ending is absurd. Nonetheless, the reader is gripped.
Gone Girl is not without literary merit. The relationships are well developed and the cultural observations about NYC versus the midwest are hilarious. In many ways, this suspense thriller works best as social satire with the media cast as the number one villain. It is also a comedy of errors. Flynn spotlights the secret jokes, tender moments, irritating habits and infuriating missteps of marriage. She asks, who hasn't, at times, wanted to kill his or her spouse? The resolution was disappointing after all the build up, but it was certainly a quick, fun read.
Disclosure: I picked up this book and put it down in more than one bookstore, underwhelmed by the first chapter and wary of all the popular hype. The hardback cost $25 and my Kindle had died on the beach. On NPR the author cited V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic as her inspiration. Talk about trashy. I bought literary paperbacks that failed to hold my attention under the hot sun. More people recommended Gone Girl to me. Others shook their head. When author Beth Kephart gave it a positive review, I headed to my local bookstore and laid down the cash with few regrets. Gone Girl was just right for the last days of summer.
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