Phoenix, Orion Books Ltd
When I read that Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl was “the next Fifty Shades of Grey” I was more than reluctant to pick it up – this is a family paper after all. But having been reassured that the reference was in relation to it being the next must read novel for book-clubs around the world, the relief encouraged me to give it a go. Like the Dan Brown books there comes an anomaly every so often that puts a book in the public eye and Gone Girl is one of them.
This is absolutely one of those books that you want your friends to read so you can discuss it with them. It brings up many common themes and twists them, and its structure cleverly leaves you neither trusting or believing either of the unreliable narrators. It’s a page turner in its own right, but one that is bereft of silly hooks, instead choosing a clever psychological trick to keep you reading, leaving just enough breadcrumbs to say “Oh, go on, another chapter won’t hurt”.
It opens on the fifth anniversary of Nick and Amy Dunne’s wedding. It’s clear from the start that things are strained and that efforts are being made on this day of all days to breathe some life into the marriage. We follow Nick as he leaves for work in the bar he owns with his twin sister, up until he receives a phone call from a concerned neighbour telling him that his front door is wide open and things seem amiss. He arrives home to find his wife, gone, and so begins the story of Amy’s disappearance told by way of the story of Amy and Nick.
Each chapter is alternatively told through the voice of the husband and wife – Nick in the present, during the search and with fingers increasingly being pointed at him – Amy in the form of diaries, the first being from the date the couple met, the last being just a few days before. It is also told in three parts, structure being integral to the plot.
It is a great study in not only as specific concern as a marriage gone sour but current global concerns of our day; the recession and the affect of media on our lives. Both have lost good jobs in New York and have been coerced into moving back to Nick’s small and economically unviable home-town of Carthage, Missouri. Nick is suspicious that suspicions towards him are more pronounced since the advent of multiple TV police procedurals. Amy knows all too well the effect a good diary entry has – despite the worldwide trend away from print, the pen may well still be mightier than the sword.
A blockbuster it isn’t. It’s a sly creeper of a book, hooking you unbeknownst to you until you find you can’t put it down. It’s intelligent and doesn’t take the reader for a fool, but still manages to stay one step ahead to provide effective and shocking twists in the narrative. With books like these there may be some life in the media yet. Oh, and it does deserve the buzz.
– Aoife B. Burke
First Published in The Tuam Herald on 04 April 2013