Gone girl
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Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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!”

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28 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed Gone Girl but it took me a lot longer than two hours to read!! I thought the twist was completely unexpected and I found it to be a page turner. Definitely well written for a piece of popular fiction! Any decisions on moving or not now? X

    • Well, decision is that I am going to take the girls to look around this house! It’s all dependent on so much, such as it feeling right to them… also there’s every chance I won’t get approved for a bigger mortgage, or someone else will buy it before I can sell my house, so I don’t want to get too attached to the idea, but it’s worth exploring at least.

      Twist was good, wasn’t it? The book picked up a lot after that and the tumble to the finish line was very well done.

    • I was definitely feeling good yesterday being around town and everyone I’ve asked who lives there says they *love* it. Of course they are biased, but it’s a good start. So I’m going (when I’ve got one minute to myself) to phone up and see if we can view the house and start to get a feel of what it would be like to live there, and think about what we want.

      I was expecting Gone Girl to be much creepier in the traditional thriller sense. I’d give the others a go – a good, entertaining read I expect.

  2. kateatthekeyboard

    I’m also one of the only people on the planet who haven’t read this yet. I saw the film trailer the other day and realised I need to get a move on but I’ve been a bit put off as my mum started reading it and told me she found the writing really irritating. She seems to be in the minority though as most people rave about it! Reading your review I am a bit more inspired to pick it up again now.

    • I can see that the writing could be irritating. The style is arresting at first, in a rather flash and hard way. It’s insightful and incisive. But the texture is quite harsh.

  3. Denise, I have to say that I absolutely HATED this book! Didn’t like the writing style, thought the plot was far fetched, the protagonists didn’t come alive for me. I can’t imagine why I finished it. Oh yes, just remembered – I was stuck on a plane. 🙂

    • It was all of those things, I’m not denying it! But in its defence, I do have to say that if it’s a thiller, it might as well be a thriller with style and an awareness of the context of the bigger world around it. I am also a big admirer of chutzpah and having a go, which is where I would file the far fetched plot (I mean, it was SO far fetched wasn’t it?!)

  4. Well, I suppose I am now the only person in the world who hasn’t read this book, Denise. Your comment, “it is a landmark of the modern literary scene, ” is the reason I chose not to read it…that and I read some reviews that focused on the subject matter and I knew it wasn’t for me.
    Back when “Fifty Shades of Grey” was all the rage, I was clueless about the book, I thought it was about menopause…seriously. 🙂 A coworker raved about it and said I had to read it. She lent me her copy and I don’t remember how far along I got, but I returned it to her. Like Jenny’s feelings about “Girl Gone” I thought the writing in “Fifty Shades of Grey” was insulting. If that book can be a #1 bestseller, then I think we all have a good chance at making that list. I’m not a prude, I just felt like a high school student wrote the book.
    Good luck with your decision.

    • To me, so long as people are reading and hungry for and engaged with print media, that’s generally a good thing. I’m interested in looking at what appeals about bestsellers, and am encouraged that there is a space for a thriller with something extra, ie something intelligent to say about sense of time and place and society. I do feel differently about 50 shades – where I didn’t get past the sample chapters. I feel very strongly that there is a place for a sensitive, intelligent novel(s) dealing with how we react to possession, power and sexuality in our relationships. I feel disappointed that currently we only have 50 shades, with its unrealistic characters and sensationalist storyline, in that gap.

  5. Yes good luck with a touch decision. It might be nice, after all not to have a car. Think of all that catching up you can do without a car.
    All that time to yourself. And the interesting people you will meet.

    • I did miss out on that stage in my life, of being in a place with lots of people to meet and bump into, naturally. There was only the 2.5 years I spent at University and half the time I wasn’t there, I was down here with my husband.

  6. I also haven’t read that book but I’m not sure that it’s my thing.

    I agree with what Jill said about Fifty shades of Grey: it was dreadful!

    I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the train. I loved all our train trips in the UK. We were free to do other things like play with gadgets, read books, colour-in and drink tea. It was just so civilised and also much faster than the car.

    • I don’t think Gone Girl is everyone’s thing. I half-saw it as studying! I like to investigate what is behind runaway successes even if I don’t always enjoy the book. I have to say, I did enjoy reading this although actually I have enjoyed the discussing of it more than the reading of it.

      Fifty shades I just find depressing, even though I only read the sample chapters.

  7. Gwen Stephens

    It was one of my favorite reads of 2012, and I have to say I agree with all your points here in this well-written review. Enjoyed your post on moving house as well. I agree with your Facebook friend — go for it!

    • Thank you! It was different and had an energy about it. As a writer, I would say reading this gave me an important reminder – Not all books can or should be as electrifying as this one (we’d all be permanently wired if all our culture was like this) but never forget to keep the energy flowing.

  8. I enjoyed this book, didn’t love it. It’s a challenge sometimes when you really dislike both main characters and find them irritating! Good luck with your big house decision! How exciting!

    • They were irritating but deserved each other and belonged together. In some ways a gothic love story! The irritation factor was a reason why I felt this would have benefitted from being a shorter book!

  9. I’ve not read the book either if it makes you feel any better 😉 really exciting that you’re taking the girls to see the house. Best of luck with it all Denise, look forward to hearing an update soon!

    • They have lived out here all their lives and I think are similarly excited/anxious as I am about the idea. We just have to get a feel of it – busy this weekend but I think maybe next weekend, (I hope?)

  10. I felt very much like you about Gone Girl. I thought it was an interesting portrait of gender rancour to begin with, but then the end went completely bonkers in the name of sensational reading experience but it lost me at that point. I found it unintentionally hilarious rather than thrilling. But the main twist was good. Ooh very intriguing about the new house. Do let us know how you get on!

    • It was very silly, wasn’t it? The bit right at the end when they were walking on eggshells around each other. I had been thrilled up until then I admit, I guess willing him to get out of the nightmare.

      We went to view the first house again on Saturday and I had in mind what you said about the sound of the world going by and I realised I had been totally blowing road noise out of all proportion – it is only because I am used to complete silence in the countryside, and this will not happen in the town. I realised on 2nd viewing that we all loved the house. I am going to put an offer in on Tuesday, but am expecting to be rejected because there is another buyer in the picture and he is ready to move now…

      • Oh how exciting and tense to be on the brink of making an offer. I’ll keep everything crossed for you!

      • Thank you – I’m just waiting for them to open right now…

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  11. Living in the US, at least where I am in the suburbs of Northern California, I kind of miss public transport! Singapore has great buses and trains compared to here. And I kind of miss being able to sit and read/listen to music while on a bus or train! 🙂

    • Yesterday I hit a kerb and totally shredded my tyre. I think this could be an omen that I am a terrible driver and would be much better suited to public transport.

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