I’m not generally a mystery girl. Murder Who Dunnits are not generally my style. The first time I picked up Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I put it back down after reading the first page. The first paragraph was a husband’s description of his wife’s head, the shape of her skull. It was creepy, chilling, and nothing I wanted to immerse myself in.
“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. … She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.”
I decided to skip this month’s book club read. Why should I be forced to read something I didn’t want to? My reading hours are too precious to waste on peer pressure.
But then everyone in my book club began talking about the book. “Have you read it? I can’t believe the twists! I couldn’t put it down. So good!” My friends’ enthusiasm was much more convincing than the glowing reviews on the book cover. I gave Gone Girl another chance. And as they predicted, I was hooked.
Gone Girl was filled with shocking plot twists, right up until the last chapter. I knew they would be there, tried to guess where she was going with the story, but was surprised every time.
After both Nick Dunne and his wife Amy lose their NYC magazine jobs, they move back to Nick’s hometown in Missouri. The move strains the marriage, and Amy disappears on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. Half the chapters are in Nick’s voice, and although he seems innocent, the police uncover mountains of evidence implicating him. The alternating chapters, excerpts from Amy’s diary, paint a very different story than the one Nick is telling.
Reading Gone Girl is like being taken behind a marriage’s closed doors, or like eavesdropping on the couple fighting at a nearby table at a restaurant. You feel cheap listening in, but you can’t help yourself. That Gillian Flynn is a talented writer only adds to the guilty pleasure. Even the backdrop of Nick and Amy’s drama is painted perfectly, capturing our national hopelessness and making it part of the story with descriptions like,
“The only houses for rent were clusters in this failed development: a miniature ghost town of bank-owned, recession-busted, price-reduced mansions, a neighborhood that closed before it ever opened.”
Gone Girl is more than a gripping mystery, however. There are big discussions to be had about marriage, the media, diaries, and the perfect crime. I’m looking forward to our book club discussion and wholeheartedly recommend this book for your next selection, or your personal read.