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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone-girl This book is our book group choice for discussion this month – I would normally wait until after we’ve met to put down some thoughts about our reading, but after devouring this novel in two sittings, (I started at bedtime last night, and finished it when I woke up this morning – which did mean I got up rather late!), I feel compelled to give some instant reactions.

Ever since this book was published, it’s been making news but, for each glowing review I’ve seen, there’s been a ‘meh’ one.  I think that you can guess which camp I fall into …

Nick and Amy are a seemingly golden couple, recently moved back to Carthage, Missouri from NYC, so Nick can care for his ailing parents.  Everything changes on their fifth wedding anniversary, when Nick comes home to find Amy missing.  No body is found, and Nick is naturally the obvious suspect. He is adamant that he didn’t do it, but can’t explain many oddities or provide a full alibi that would take him out of the investigation.  So what has happened to Amy?

To say any more would be to say too much, however, it wouldn’t be spoiling things to tell you that the novel twists and turns so much that you’ll change your allegiance chapter by chapter. I gasped at some of the reveals, and then felt pleased with myself for making links – some of which would be dashed later, every little thing seeming to have its place in the narrative.

The chapters cleverly alternate between Nick and Amy’s versions. At first, Nick’s are current; Amy’s are historical from her diary entries since they first met. It becomes clear very fast that all is not right between them…

Nick – The day of:
When she spied me lurking there in grubby boxers, my hair in full Heat Miser spike, she leaned against the kitchen counter and said, ‘Well, hello, handsome.’
Bile and dread inched up my throat. I thought to myself. Okay, go. (page 8)

The plot of this novel reminded me very much of the convoluted plots of British psychodrama queen Sophie Hannah. If you like one, you’ll do well with the other. Neither Hannah’s books, nor Gone Girl stop to take breath, the action is relentless and most of what happens is usually nasty, not nice!

I’m convinced that the best way to read thrillers is total immersion, to devour them in as few sittings as possible, letting the action flow around you and not over-analysing what happens in the pages until after you’ve finished.  For me, a good roller-coaster of a plot always benefits from this approach. In this way, even the ridiculous elements of something like The Da Vinci Code can be overlooked so that you can enjoy the ride. There, I’ve said it! (I read it in one sitting on holiday years ago, and it was fun at the time.)

Gone Girl is much, much cleverer than that.  Although the plot drives the narrative, the two main characters are so well conceived, that Flynn is able to add many extra layers to the story. It will be interesting to see if any of our Book Group have the same experience, and if I still feel the same about the book in a week’s time …

How was it for you?
How do you read thrillers?

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I bought my copy. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Phoenix paperback, 463 pages.

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