A guilty pleasure of mine is to read psychological thrillers full of drama and mystery. I love the books which allow me to peer into the lives of majorly messed up people, read about all of their toxicity and evil plans… and then shut the book. I can fold the characters neatly back into the pages of their novel. My life is none the messier for it. There is no residual chaos resulting from letting these loons into my life for a few days. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was one of these books for me. This book has been wildly popular, landing on the New York Times bestseller list for the whole summer. I could not wait to read it myself. The storyline is packed full of twists and turns. It has more surprises than a night of drinking for Randy Travis.
The book opens on the morning of Amy and Nick Dunne’s 5th wedding anniversary. The tone makes it clear that something very wrong is happening in their relationship. As Nick Dunne narrates the first chapter, he makes it apparent that he does not even feel like seeing his wife that day. Nick’s emotional state is clear when he tells the reader “there is something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.” He also mentions that bile and dread are “inching up in his throat.” Later the same day Amy Dunne vanishes. Nick is acting really suspicious, and there is great concern as to whether or not he knows anything about Amy’s disappearance.
The day I began reading Gone Girl, I found myself reading it late into the night. Reluctantly I forced myself to put the book down in an attempt to avoid utter chaos and exhaustion in the morning. The story was so compelling; I found it extremely hard to go to sleep. I was so concerned about what happened to Amy Dunne, and I needed to know if Nick had anything to do with her disappearance. At around 3:00 am that night (I must have just fallen to sleep) my bedroom lit up and then came a deafening “boom!” Then the light and the “boom!” Again…over and over… it was thundering and lightning at an unbelievable pace. The creepiest part was there was absolutely no rain – only colossal amounts thunder and lightning. The wind started violently whipping against our house with an astounding force. My husband also woke up, and we turned on the news to see if we needed to get our kids into the basement. It was unbelievably eerie, and I must admit to looking outside a few times to make sure Nick Dunne was not standing in my yard next to a tree. Thankfully he is fictitious and therefore was not in my yard… only my head.
The chapters of the book alternate in narration between the voices of the husband Nick Dunne and his missing wife, Amy Dunne. The two main characters have very different views of what has happened in their marriage. They speak of the same events but have quite contradictory interpretations. Both of the narrators are addressing the reader and trying to convince the reader to side with them. I considered it an ingenious way to create a relationship between the reader and both of the main characters. Each chapter had me changing opinions and trying to figure out whose side is more accurately reflecting what truly happened. The characters are both intensely complicated. One minute I despised them and the next minute they seemed so endearing I wanted to comfort them and help them work out their problems. They are both remarkably intelligent and cunning people, and I found myself wanting to sympathize with both of them.
Amy and Nick Dunne have a marriage that is unquestionably troubled and full of lies. As is usually the case, their dishonesty started out with small deceptions. Amy would not tell Nick when things upset her. She never mentioned to him that it hurt her feelings when he could not meet her and her girlfriends out for happy hour. Until it was too late, she was not forthright about how much she despised their move from New York City to Missouri. Nick went back on his word and refused to move back to New York City even after his mom died. He stopped trying to get along with Amy, and he made no effort to strengthen their relationship. He was not honest about his desire to have children. As each of the characters tells the reader their stories, it is so clear how many of their larger problems could have been stopped when they were still small discourteous actions. That is of course considering these were normal people. Unfortunately, Amy and Nick Dunne are far from mentally healthy people, and they display largely sociopathic tendencies. Each seems to be incapable of honesty. A narcissist never really engages in a relationship with anyone other than themselves, and this appears to be the case for both Amy and Nick Dunne. While I can learn from their mistakes, they seem to be completely incapable.
Gone Girl reiterated to me how two people in the same exact situation can walk away with opposite interpretations. There can be many sides to what is actually happening in a relationship. It reminded me that it is so important to be honest about even my smallest feelings in my marriage. It is imperative for my husband and me to daily speak up about the things we will or will not tolerate. Seeds of animosity can start out so small, and I refuse to have any resentment in my life. This book made me so very grateful for my honest life. Daily I try to do the right thing. I definitely pick simple and peaceful over complicated and chaotic. I try to protect my marriage with everything I have, because one little self-centered decision can spread enormous amounts stress and anxiety to many different people.
I will absolutely be reading Gillian Flynn’s other psychological thrillers as Gone Girl was truly an entertaining book. And it made me feel good about myself, because nothing works better than crazy people to make someone else feel sane.
Pages: 415 FOA Pages: 1697 (Total number of pages reported upon by Friends of Atticus)