“Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.”
I read Gone Girl for CBR6 and have been comparing psychological thrillers to it since. I was beginning to wonder if I had made up how remarkable Gillian Flynn’s bone chilling drama was and holding lesser novels to an impossible standard.
I remained impressed with Flynn’s psychological mind fuck of a novel about a dysfunctional married couple whose secrets are exposed when the wife goes missing. Nick Dunne and his wife, Amy Elliot-Dunne, had an idyllic courtship but after five years of marriage that involved two layoffs, a move from New York to Missouri and the death of a parent things are beginning to sour for the once happy couple. One the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary Nick leaves the house and eventually makes his way to the bar he runs with his twin sister. He then receives a phone call saying his front door is wide open and, upon his arrival, Nick discovers Amy is missing. The author shares two perspectives with the reader: Nick in the present day, a man who is not happy with his marriage but still hoping his wife will return home safely and Amy’s journal which shows her as a battered wife who was petrified of her husband.
You want to trust Nick. He seems to want to find his wife as much as the cops- even if it is just to divorce her for his sidepiece but it’s hard with Amy’s competing narrative. Amy paints the picture of an overgrown man child who married a rich “cool” girl but years later finds himself married to an out of work magazine quiz writer who emptied her trust fund to help her parents out of a financial jam. No longer young and rich Nick has turned cold and begins to take his frustrations out on his wife.
I feel at this point everyone knows “the twist” that makes Gone Girl so impressive but even knowing the truth can’t lessen the pay off. Flynn is a master.
“Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him not like you? So that’s how the hating first began. I’ve thought about this a lot, and that’s where it started, I think.”
Amy isn’t dead. She wasn’t kidnapped. She orchestrated the whole damn thing and is watching from a lakeside cabin. She hates her husband but she can’t divorce him because that isn’t enough so she plans faking her death for a year and sets an elaborate frame job of her husband. Her journal entries are bull shit. Sure Nick isn’t a great guy but he isn’t the psycho his wife wanted the police (and public) to believe.
It’s psychotic and freaking brilliant. It feels believable even though it has one of the most over the top second acts. The ending is just insane but it works!
I doubt there are many Cannonballers who haven’t read Gone Girl but if you haven’t you should.