Wednesday 11 December 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

It's taken me a while to get round to reading Gillian Flynn's massively successful best-seller Gone Girl, but I was finally prompted to do so when it was chosen by my firm's book group as our book of the month. And the first thing to say is that I can certainly see what all the fuss has been about. I read Flynn's excellent debut novel, Sharp Objects, and this story, although very different, is even more compelling.

Flynn has written a psychological suspense novel with a story told from (at least) two different perspectives, a man called Nick Elliott, and his wife Amy. The subject matter is their complex relationship, and a sequence of disastrous events which spirals out of control. There's a major twist half way through the book, and I must say that I was pleased to recognise it as a device that was also used, although in a different way, by two Golden Age books that I've covered on this blog in the past year - one by Richard Hull and one by Nicholas Blake. To say any more would be a spoiler, but I am sure Flynn won't have read Hull's very obscure book, and is probably unlikely to have read the Blake In any case, her use of the device is different and distinctive.

There are as many twists and turns as you'd find in a classic whodunit, and this is part of the book's appeal. The personalities of Nick and Amy are, in many ways, unappealing, but that is often the case with characters in books of this kind, and for me it was not an obstacle to enjoyment. There are also plenty of witty lines, as well as a withering portrayal of the way the media treat a cause celebre.

I know some people, including my colleagues at work, found the ending of the book unsatisfactory. Since I am not, of course, going to give anything away about what happens, I will simply say that I agree that the quality of the ending was not in my opinion quite up to the standard of the rest of the book. But I could see what Gillian Flynn was trying to do (although in the lead-up to the finale, I thought she had a different outcome in mind). Some of my colleagues gave it lowish marks (I've begged them not to subject my own novels to their very demanding scrutiny!), but I rate it highly. Overall I must say that for me, this novel lives up to all the hype.


Uriah Robinson said...

Martin, unfortunately I agreed with your colleagues. The ballyhoo about the twist half way through ruined the book for me because it was so obvious and telegraphed.
Perhaps reading Peril at End House and Death on the Nile has spoilt me for twists.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Uriah, well, those two Christies are up there with the best, that's for sure