It was with great trepidation that I started reading Gone Girl. I have had a bad run recently with really not enjoying books that everyone else loves (All That I Am, I’m looking at you) or just hating the recent books from my previously favourite authors (Sweet Tooth, why did you have to suck so much?). It seemed like everyone whose literary opinion I respect was raving about Gone Girl and, if I’d hated it, I would seriously have considered giving up contemporary fiction in its entirety and just read classic literature for the rest of my life.
Fear not, booksellers, because after finishing Gone Girl in one long sitting, I am back in the contemporary literature fold. The book opens on Amy and Nick Dunne’s fifth anniversary. She is making in crepes for breakfast and the hatred and unhappiness in their marriage is clear from the outset. We know they loved each other once but now that love has been replaced by something else. It’s bad, but what exactly is it? By the end of the day Amy has vanished and Nick is involved in a missing person’s case that quickly develops into a possible homicide.
The book alternates chapters from Nick and Amy’s point of views and one of the things it does really well is use this alternation to play with the reader’s sympathy and identification. This book has been accused of being both misogynist and misandrist but in my view is neither. The discomfort that leads to these accusations comes from the allegiances the text draws with each character and then rapidly undermines. Is Nick a horrible man and husband who neglects and doesn’t appreciate his brilliant, beautiful bride or a victim? Is Amy horrible unappreciated and taken advantage of or a manipulative genius? Admittedly as the book gets closer to the end it does veer on the border of unrealism and excess but by the time I reached that point I was enjoying the ride so much that I didn’t care.
Much has been written about the twists and turns of Gone Girl. I don’t think any of it is particularly twisty or unpredictable but it is very enjoyable and lots of fun to read. Thanks to this book, my faith in contemporary fiction is restored and I can read new books again without apprehension. I give this book four stars.