Gillian Flynn"What are you thinking, Amy?" Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately 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 aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war...
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Reading group questions
Richard and Judy ask Gillian Flynn
Other 'Amazing Amys' and what the future had in store for them
Nick and Amy's playlists
Nick's top ten movies
Amy's top ten movies
What kind of spouse are you? Take our quiz and find out what kind of partner you are - and what it means for your marriage!
This is a wonderful and compelling thriller, very dark, complex and intelligent. Gone Girl opens on the morning of Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Nick wakens to find Amy in the kitchen making breakfast pancakes. Spotting him, she “leaned against the kitchen counter and said ‘Well, hello handsome.’” But in Nick’s head is this ‘“Bile and dread inched up my throat. I thought to myself – OK, go.”’
That unsettling start to the book, Nick’s ambivalent response to his wife’s apparently happy greeting on their wedding anniversary, sets the tone for the rest of this dazzlingly thrilling story.
Later that day, Amy goes missing. Their front door is open, the coffee table shattered, books scattered around. Amy is a rich, trust fund New Yorker, but the recession has left Nick redundant from his job as a magazine writer. The couple has moved back to his old home in Missouri, which Amy hates.
Nick calls the police – they question him – and again his tone is dark, ambivalent. ‘“I felt myself enacting the Concerned Husband,”’ he says. ‘“I wasn’t sure what to say now. I raked my memory for the lines. What does the husband say at this point in the movie? Depends on whether he’s guilty or innocent.”’
Exactly. And the police soon begin to suspect he is guilty.
Gone Girl is told both from Nick’s and Amy’s points of view. Nick records how not only the police but also a sensationalised American media point the finger of guilt at him. After all, Amy is blonde and beautiful, the daughter of a famous and successful novel writing couple. The sections from Amy’s diary record the early days of their relationship.
This story, of an increasingly toxic marriage, is one of the best I’ve read in years.
Boy, this is dark. Gone Girl is brilliantly written and plotted; nothing is what it seems. The story twists and turns about itself, and is full of contradictions that are then resolved. It is impossible to put down.
Gradually, the reader begins to agree with police suspicions that Nick has murdered Amy. He tells lies to the cops; not whoppers, but inconsequential fibs that begin to make you wonder exactly what he’s playing at.
And Nick is misogynistic. He talks about ‘”girl brains”” and women smelling ‘”vaginal and strangely lude””.
On the other hand, Amy’s diary reads oddly too. Her version of events doesn’t chime with Nick’s. Gradually, what once seemed a perfect marriage throws up deep cracks and frightening shadows. Which of them is telling the truth?
Essentially, Gone Girl is a book which asks how well you can ever know the person you love. Nick asks, rhetorically, these questions: ”What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions storm cloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”’
Gone Girl is sharp, macabre, tense and terrifying. Surely, a classic definition of a good read.
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