|Gone Girl is a contemporary thriller written by popular novelist Gillian Flynn. It has been praised almost everywhere by the critics and the public, from the Observer and Times, to the Daily Mail and Twitter. It's easy to see the popular appeal; it's fast paced, gripping, and readable without being condescending.|
The two main characters are Amy, who goes missing at the beginning of the novel, and who's disappearance drives the plot, and her husband, Nick. Amy and Nick take turns to narrate, both in the present with the police investigation, and with past recollections of their marriage. Nick is immediately a suspect in Amy's disappearance due to his detached behaviour, extra-marital affair, and the fact that Amy goes missing on the day of their wedding anniversary. Nick, however, suspects Amy of framing him, and begins his own investigation, starting with Amy's usual anniversary treasure hunt.
Gone Girl has been praised for being relatable and contemporary, as it deals with unemployment, loss of trust funds, and the decay of small town middle America. It has also been praised for being literary. I find the latter praise to be stretching the truth; Gone Girl is firmly a thriller, and in no way literary fiction, and is significantly more similar in style to The Da Vinci Code than to any Ian McEwan novel (although perhaps more similar in subject matter to early period 'Ian Macabre'). The literary references in it were almost forced and slightly careless. For example, the description of the interior of Desi's home, which has been decorated by Desi in order to please Amy, was incredibly similar to the description of the interior of Gatsby's mansion, decorated in order to please Daisy. "Your fairy tale. I want you to see what life can be like." (Desi, p.380) / "How long as he wanted to bring me here?" (Amy, p.380).
Both Desi and Gatsby want to possess the object of their affection ('object' being the operative word here) and want to erase the woman's past relationship: "Wouldn't it be so lovely to just forget about Nick, those awful five years, and move on? You have that chance, you know, to completely start over with the right man. How many people can say that?" (Desi, p.404)
Later on in the novel we learn that over the past year, Amy has carefully constructed a diary, creating a persona in order to frame Nick. The reader is subject to the point of view of both 'real Amy', and 'diary Amy'; real Amy's construction. Real Amy says that she created diary Amy to gain sympathy from the public. She wanted people to like diary Amy, and to feel sorry for her, an innocent victim. Real Amy is far from innocent.
Gone Girl's saving grace comes in page 250, where we hear real Amy's voice for the first time. It is a paragraph that so perfectly encapsulates the struggles of young women and girls forced both to be and to always appear, all things to all men; the 'Cool Girl'. The cool girl is: friendly, funny, popular, geeky but not too brainy, up for anything, available, curvy, and always, always, pretty and thin. It could be argued that diary Amy buys into this image and attempts to fit this ideal, ultimately, ending up miserable, (and significantly, dead), whereas real Amy calls it out for what it is- a lie.
Real Amy's voice comes fresh and clear at this point, and this is a clever narrative device, as the reader- if you agree with Amy- is seduced into taking her side over both Nick and and diary Amy, and into believing her version of events. Amy then goes on to increasingly erratic and psychotic behaviour, and the reader's opinions are challenged further.
I bought this novel for £3 from Tesco, and definitely do not regret buying it at that price. I am now going to pass it onto friends. It is the type of novel that is a good holiday read, and that you probably wouldn't waste luggage space bringing it back home once you finish it. I gave Gone Girl a 3/5.