Tuesday, 3 June 2014
This Girl Gone, Well and Truly
By now there can be few readers of contemporary novels who have not read it, so I won’t be spoiling anything if I talk about it. The book was on the bestseller lists both here and in the US for weeks some time time ago. I tend to come to current bestsellers late, mostly because bestsellers are not often my preferred choice of reading. In the end, when everyone, including the Guardian reviewer ( A Must Read!), is raving about a particular novel, I give in. I have ‘The Goldfinch’ and ‘The Luminaries’ downloaded but if or when I’ll to get them remains to be seen.
I’d never heard of Gillian Flynn, but this is not her first novel.
Judging by this book Flynn is an extraordinarily good writer.
She hooked me in right from the start and didn’t release me until the end. Nick and Amy are a happy couple, New York writers both; they lose their jobs, money becomes tight and they move to small town Missouri to look after Nick’s mother and father. Their marriage suffers, they bicker and fight and then Amy disappears. The Police think Nick has killed her.
Gone Girl switches between Nick's narrative, as the hunt for the beautiful, blond Amy consumes the attention of America's media, and Amy's diary, as she writes about the early days of their relationship. We never know who is telling the truth. We can never quite say who the protagonists are.
Gone Girl is a psychological thriller, again, not my favourite genre. For instance, I find Patricia Highsmith almost unreadable, she scares and disturbs me so. But Flynn is good, she knows me and readers like me. She pulls us in gently, only gradually increasing the suspense, delighting, baffling, disturbing us in turn, until we have no choice but to continue to the clever, funny and ultimately terrifying conclusion.
If I have a niggle, it is a minor one. Towards the end the police are more stupid than they need to be in a novel of this calibre. Only one officer sees the truth. On the other hand, if the facts of Amy’s disappearance had been fully revealed to the authorities, the ending wouldn’t have been half as terrifying as it is.