Gone Girl – A Few Thoughts

Gone Girl has been running high in the bestseller charts for a while now, and there’s a movie on the way from David Fincher, a man who knows a good thing when he sees it. ¬†While I was taking a break down in Cornwall for a week, I nabbed a copy and enjoyed it a lot.

In a way, you get two different books here. Luckily, both of them are very good. The first is a suspense thriller with a mounting sense of unease built through the accretion of tiny details and the realisation that two different people are looking at the same events in different ways. The revelations are eked out by the author’s skilful work and keep the ground moving under your feet. It’s an addictive telling that’s grounded in truly good writing that particularly captures both a sense of place and the deep psychology of people.

At the midway point we begin to transition to the other book, Gillian Flynn’s dissection of the state of modern love and marriage, with some very acute observations and analysis. If you’re an old school sentimentalist, you might not like what you find. What I enjoy about the author’s take is that she doesn’t cosset the reader. She’s not afraid to reveal the harsh nature of human beings, the transactional state of some relationships and that love can mean many things to many different people.

Some people have complained about the ending. I have no problem with it. If this were only a suspense thriller, it would not be the ending you’d want, but it fits perfectly with the author’s design of her characters and her themes. She’s created a very good monster here, but one that could easily exist though few would want to admit that (I’ve met a handful of sociopaths who play in the same ballpark).

My one criticism is that the second half – in plot terms – is too rushed compared to the first half. I think the ending would have been better served by a slower pace and more of the detail we were used to. But overall, a great book, a great character study, a great commentary, and one that will grow over time.