Annabel's House of Books

Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

Nick loves Amy, Amy loves Nick, don't they?

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.

12 Comments

  1. A decent, by which I mean plot driven, thriller just demands to be rampaged through. I read Angels and Daemons in one all night sitting years ago and can remember several others that needed to be read in a binge.
    Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll look out for this one.

  2. One quality of a great thriller is that you want to read it all in one sitting. That was true for me with Gone Girl. Another quality of a great thriller is that it leaves you admiring it afterwards instead of feeling manipulated. This was not true for me with Gone Girl. The further I got from the roller coaster ride, the more ‘meh’ I was about it.

    I guess that makes it a good thriller, as far as I’m concerned.

    Just wanted to add that I read about six posts here on your blog today and really enjoyed them all.

    • Thanks for your kind words CB!

      In my teens I devoured classic thrillers by the mile but can remember very few of them (bar those that got filmed – Bond of course, Where Eagles Dare etc). Recently, I read my first Lee Child book featuring Jack Reacher – and after a couple of months, I can’t remember the plot, only the character, which is enough of a hook to read more.

  3. I keep seeing this one mentioned a lot in the US ,and mainly positive as well not sure it really me but who knows if our paths cross ,thrillers I don’t read many ,but if is a page turner I would prefer to read in one or two sittings myself ,all the best stu

  4. Another one here who devoured this in two sittings. I remember well planning to go to bed early for once and ending up turning pages into the wee hours. I think the story is thrilling, but I also think that beneath its extreme top layer it has interesting things to say about perspective, memory, and relationships.

    My next book salon topic after our “Orphans” meeting next week is marriage. I am sure this one will come up and it will be interesting to see if anyone reads other dual husband/wife narratives to compare it to.

    • For the ultimate in dual husband/wife narratives (but not nasty like this) you should try Mrs Bridge and Mr Bridge by Evan S Connell – a pair of novels telling a family’s story over the same period – one Mrs PoV, one Mr’s. (my review here)

      • Your review was one of the things that pushed me to finalize and present a book list on the theme! Well, that and the fact I wanted to read Middlemarch in March. Luckily, everybody else also loved the topic idea and voted for it overwhelmingly.

  5. I was wondering about buying this when i was last in England, now I definitely will, sounds great. I agree with you about the Jack Reacher books, they’re far from great literature but when you feel like a really pacey read they hit the spot perfectly.

  6. Loved this book so much that I lost track of my copy!! It has been passed around by everyone in my book group and then I told everyone else I know to read it!! Could not put it down and it stayed with me for days. So glad you liked it. I am enjoying your blog. I found it through Simon of SavidgeReads.

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