“There’s a difference between really loving someone and loving the idea of her.” -Gone Girl
Readers of The Media Chick, I present to you a typical morning in the marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne. We join them at their mansion on the Mississippi river at 6:00, the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary. Nick wakes up and walks down the stairs to see his wife, already in the kitchen humming the M*A*S*H theme song (“Suicide is Painless”) and making crepes. Nick leaves for work and goes about his normal day and when he returns home that night…Amy is gone.
The facts were these:
Nick and Amy met at a Brooklyn party. Eight months later they run into each other again and date for real. They eventually get married. Life is good until Nick and Amy both lose their jobs (Gillian Flynn used her personal experience getting laid off as a writer for Entertainment Weekly) and have to move to Nick’s hometown of North Carthage, MO to care for Nick’s ailing mother. Amy hates having to leave the city and everything about the small town she’s relocated to. This leads to fights, infidelity, and money troubles and all of the basic staples of a failing marriage. When Amy goes missing, Nick quickly becomes suspect #1.
This is the normal plot flow of a basic crime story, but please don’t let that fool you. These facts are simply the foundation of the elaborate game of chess that author Gillian Flynn has penned. The story is told from both Nick and Amy’s points of view, and each narrator talks directly to the reader. Nick’s story starts in the present and the day she disappears while Amy’s passages are grounded in the past, thanks to a secret diary.
Amy’s diary starts when she first meets Nick and tells a very idyllic history. You can see that Amy and Nick really loved each other in the beginning, and they seemed to have the perfect life. When the fights start, Amy tries her hardest to keep her husband happy. But the worse things get between the two she grows fearful of her safety from her abusive husband, to the point where she thinks she needs a gun to protect herself.
Things don’t look very good for Nick. He’s a classic “unreliable narrator”, lies of omission that begin so subtly at first that you don’t even notice. However during the first few chapters, you start to realize he’s only telling everyone what he thinks they need to know. “It was my fifth lie to the police. I was just starting.” Even the things he does let slip are unsettling: he has a hot temper, he just increased the life insurance policy for Amy recently, and not to mention the young woman whose calls he keeps ignoring.
Nick’s life seems to be full of unhappiness that he can’t seem to escape from. He owns a bar with his twin sister and used what was left of Amy’s trust fund to pay for it. He resents for this but needs to stay with her if he wants to keep it. He works as a teacher but can’t get over the loss of his career in New York. He has a terrible temper and imagines doing horrible things to Amy in his dreams. He also has a habit of grinning in a very uncomfortable way every time the media interviews him, and admits that there’s something darker going on under his friendly surface. “I often don’t say things out loud, even when I should. I contain and compartmentalize to a disturbing degree: In my belly-basement are hundreds of bottles of rage, despair, fear, but you’d never guess from looking at me.”
Amy has her own puzzling history too, her parents wrote a series of children’s books called “Amazing Amy”, starring their fantasy version of their daughter. Their constant pushing towards perfection may have been too much for Amy to take. The books brought fame and fortune to Amy’s family but Amy had to grow up with a constant threat of stalkers, and when her parents fell on hard times in her adulthood, they took back her trust fund and any money she was given from her identity being used. She planned a treasure hunt on every anniversary with Nick, which was more of a test than a gift. Each clue leading to some special place that they shared to see how much Nick remembered. He always failed and she was always upset.
READER BEWARE! You can’t believe everything you read in this novel. Amy and Nick are extremely experienced at the art of deception and lies.It’s these twists and turns that make Gone Girl so interesting. I won’t spoil here the big reveal that happens in the book, nor the ending because it’s much better if you just read for yourself.I got through the novel in less than a week, which is definitely the sign of a great read. What I really loved, besides the captivating plot, is the writing style. You may agree or disagree with what Flynn’s characters are saying but no matter what, you will have a strong reaction.
The one criticism I have for Gone Girl is the ending. It seemed like Flynn had just run out of twists and didn’t know how to end the book. It was completely unsatisfying to me but wasn’t enough to ruin the entire book. And FEAR NOT reader! In the movie version of Gone Girl (Due out 10/3. Directed by David Fincher, starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry) will have a different ending! The script is also written by Gillian Flynn and it seems she agrees with her fans’ complaints. We’ll have to sit tight until October to find out, but for now, here’s a link to watch the trailer:
“There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold”
“It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of just a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters./And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls./It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else./ I would have given anything to feel real again.”
“Tampon commercial, detergent commercial, maxi pad commercial, windex commercial– you’d think all women do is clean and bleed.”
“Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.”
“My gosh, Nick, why are you so wonderful to me?” He was supposed to say: ‘You deserve it. I love you.’ But he said ‘Because I feel sorry for you.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because every morning you have to wake up and be you.'”
I hope you enjoyed my review, and please let me know what you thought of the book.