Today I went on a training course in Hook, in Hampshire. It would have been a two hour drive, so I decided to take the train instead, which was a great decision. I loved it, and it really really drew me further to the idea of giving up my car. I didn’t resent travelling any more, but saw it as time when I could be doing things for myself.
I wrote a bit of my Chapter 9 and I also managed to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (it is a reeeeallly long way from Lewes to Hook). I’d been looking for something easy in the brain, and in my mind, Gone Girl is one of those books you have to read because it is a landmark of the modern literary scene. Probably everyone in the world has read this apart from me, so I thought it was good to see what all the fuss was about, what my own reaction would be, and what this book’s popularity says about current tastes.
The tagline is “There are two sides to every story” and it literally is that – a husband/wife story with a difference. The voices alternate between the chapters, telling of their history and the present.
I was pretty blown away by the beginning chapters, with their energy, the stark difference in the two voices, the hectic description of the tensions and pressures of modern life in New York City and Missouri, the two main settings for the action. I was also very taken with the precise analysis of the social shapeshifting of modern America: the decline of print journalism, and the economic bubble bursting in the small towns. This uncertainty added to the creepy feeling of insecurity in the book. I also thought that there were some nice touches in the way male/female relationships work (or any relationship come to that…) and the way people’s hopes clash against each other, and the way people
The main negative about the book was that it was too long. There aren’t masses of twists, so the first half, which was largely about the psychological build up, actually bored me a bit. I speed read it and don’t think I missed out on too many vital clues. The ending was also a bit barmy, but by then the action had ramped up so much that it made a kind of sense – it worked for me because the author unashamedly went for it and didn’t hold back, and there is a great deal of entertainment in just feeling like you are holding on for the ride.
I thought it was a very intelligent, well written thriller, with some great lessons in how to plot… not perfect, but different and daring enough to deserve its success.
When I got back home, my friend had Facebooked me back in response to my question: “I am thinking of buying the house next to the chip shop. Am I mad?” and she said “No, Lewes is great!”