I listened to Gone Girl (2012) by Gillian Flynn. I never wanted to get out of my car, but alas, I had to. I read this one because a friend, Cyndi, and my sister, Haley, suggested it to me. They both gave me the warning that it was full of foul and dirty language, so I give that same caution to my friends who read this blog. That language was especially jarring since I listened to it, but the story captivated me.
The book goes back and forth between the perspectives of Nick Dunne and his missing wife, Amy Elliot Dunne. Amy’s perspective is from a diary of the past, and the picture she paints is one of an unhappy marriage. From Nick’s perspective, we hear about his current thoughts following the disappearance of his wife and subsequent police investigation. He is cagey, nervous, and constantly lying.
Yet I wanted to like him. I couldn’t believe that he was guilty, but all of the clues and his own odd behavior pointed to him.
Now, here’s where I go into the spoilers. I just can’t resist. I NEED to talk about this book, so if you haven’t read it and you don’t want to know what everybody is calling “the twist,” then please stop reading now. You’ve had fair warning.
It turns out that Nick didn’t kill Amy, but that she faked her own murder and disappearance to get back at him for having an affair. Once this side of Amy is revealed, and we start hearing her real-time story, we quickly realize that she is crazy and psychotic and a sociopath. She became angry with Nick for an affair, and instead of confronting him about it, she pretended not to know for a year and plotted framing Nick for her murder. The diary we see is fabricated, with her carefully writing in different color inks and cross checking dates to her fake entries. She even cut herself and bled on the kitchen floor, and then cleaned it up. She faked the crime scene so obviously that the police would know it. She also charged some $200,000 on credit cards in Nick’s name, without his knowledge, put his fingerprints on all of the stuff while he slept, and then hid it in his sister’s shed. Of course, Nick finds it because of a “treasure” hunt she leaves behind. It is their annual ritual for celebrating their anniversary, and she planned her disappearance on their five-year anniversary.
As this narrative unfolds, we realize just how many lengths she will go to frame Nick, and the purpose becomes to keep Nick under her spell. It’s crazy. That is really the only word for it.
Yet I could identify with the narrative. I thought of several people I know that I believe are capable of Amy’s actions. Perhaps they do not possess the same capability on an intellectual scale (for Amy is wickedly smart) or on a grandiose scale, but nevertheless, I know people who hate enough to punish over and over again and who always believe themselves to the be the victim, even when they are to blame. And surely, Amy is to blame in this situation, despite Nick’s affair. His actions do not justify hers.
Now, if you read this book, I suggest reading it with a friend or identifying somebody you can talk to about it as you read because they have read it too. I couldn’t stop talking about this with my sister. I had to keep calling her and hashing it out. I had to keep guessing at what the twist would be. I wanted it figure it out before it happened. I’m sad to say that none of my theories came to pass, and just when I started suspecting Amy herself, the book confirmed it. I didn’t figure it out first.