What Have We Done To Each Other?

About a month ago, I decided it was time to read the book everyone has been talking about. I really needed to know what so great about it, and had to read it before I saw the film – something else that everyone seemed to be talking about.

I had absolutely no idea what Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) was about other than the disappearance of a mans wife. This blog will contain spoilers, so please don’t read it if you have no idea and don’t want to know. I really don’t want to be that person.

Totally clueless, I it picked up. It warned anyone who mentioned it that I hadn’t finished and threatened them with a painful beating if they were to ruin it for me!

At first I wasn’t sure if it was something I was going to enjoy. It seemed… odd. Here’s a man – Nick – who has lost his wife. How he’s lost her, we don’t know but it all seems very off. Surely, I’m supposed to feel sorry for the guy but little by little that becomes harder. Especially once we get into Amy’s diary. For the first few chapters – they switch between Nick’s present day, to Amy’s diary entries – I thought “I’ll just keep reading to see what happens”. Then it changed to “I need to know what will happen next.” Now I’m very much of the “I need to compare it with the film” frame of mind.

There was a lot about this book that I really enjoyed. It kept me guessing. From page to another, I was sure that Nick must have done it, then that maybe it was a stalker from Amy’s past, onto to Desi then back to Nick over and over. I kept going back to Nick. Why is lying to the police? Why does he have two phones? Where was he the morning she disappeared? That didn’t stop me from suspecting a different person each time a new character was introduced. I thought that aspect – the whodunit, let’s keep you guessing, you’ve got no idea what’s round the next corner – was written very well.

The characters were all very interesting, and the story line was pretty mind blowing.

Well, that is, as you’re reading it all of this seems to be so. Now that I’ve finished it and had the time to read it, there are so many things about the book that are… well… I don’t even know what to call them.

This book is very much about the human mind. The characters are very important, other small things like setting don’t matter too much, although there is a great emphasis on the Mississippi.

However the only really likeable characters are Go and Detective Bony. Neither of the main charaters come out well, and yet at points, Flynn manages to make us sympathise with them, feel sorry for them and root for them. There was a point when I was reading Amy’s diary entries when I thought “hey, maybe this is all a set up… maybe she thought it was her only way out, so she’s faked her own death and ran off, because he sounds like an absoloutley awful man to married to!”

Well done Flynn. You tricked me! Once we got past Amy’s entries, and I discovered that she was alive, but that it wasn’t a good thing… that all of her entries were made up in an attempt to make her seem like a victim, I was pretty angry. How could she? She hasn’t ran off to protect herself, she’s done as a punishment because her husband dared not to be the person she thought he was.

So for the rest of the book I feel sorry for Nick. He’s the victim really. Of course, I feel bad for Desi too, he didn’t really desreve murder, and that twisted woman of course did awful things to herself, further implying that he was also rapist, but Nick is truly the one who gets hurt here.

Well done Flynn. I’m tricked once again! As the final pages are approaching and I’m thinking “Okay, she’s going to slip up, she’s going to do something and they’re finally going to prove that she framed Nick, murdererd Desi and that she’s just a raving lunatic, and Nick will be free!” Except… no… wait. Nick’s a coward, and too determined that he can prove that he can raise his son – magically concieved without him even knowing about it- better than his own father did. He drops the case with Boney, and chooses to live his life with this awful woman.

I’ve never been so dissapointed. I wanted her to get caught so badly!

The characters were of course all done incredibly well, although I would love to know how Flynn imagined such a sick and twisted mind for her missing girl.

So, the main characters are both fascinating, and dissappointing; the to main backround characters are the most likeable; the story is genious…

Gillian Flynn has created something highly disturbing and yet so gripping… why have so many enjoyed a book about two awful human beings? I honestly don’t know. I would love to talk to Flynn about this book though, because it really was bizzare, and yet so good!

Now I really can’t wait to see the film. I need to compare them, there’s so much that happens in the book that I am wondering if they kept it for the screen.

Now, the book I’ve got has group reading questions in the back. I’m going to attempt to answer them…

1. How does the epigraph set up the novel?  The epigraph reads “Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of it’s opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood.” It’s from the Illusion but Tony Kushner. It pinpoints the theme of the novel perfectly, but before reading it, you don’t know this. I can’t remeber what I thought when I read this short paragraph now, only that I knew I was about to read something dark, and straight away I thought “I bet the husband murdered her.”

2. What are your first impressions of Nick? At first I spent a lot time questioning him. What’s he doing? Why is he doing it? Why is he nervous? Is he setting something up? I was curious about him, but suspicious of him straight away.

3. ‘Isn’t that the point of every relationship: To be known by someone else, to be understood? He gets me. She gets me. Isn’t that the simple magic phrase?’ Despite this being Diary Amy, is there any part of her that thinks this? Honestly, I feel that there is big part of Amy that just wants to be loved, to be understood… to have someone look at her and think “that’s my Amy, that’s my girl and I love her”. She’s her own worst enemy though, and because she fear that she can’t have that, she manipulates people into doing it.

4. ‘I often don’t say things out loud, even when I should’ Why does Nick stay silent so often? Nick has this desperate need to please people, for them to think that he is this perfect man that does no wrong, that is there for you, that will be of help to you. He is loving, kind, caring. He will smile and make a joke in an awkward situation, he will do the easy thing to please someone. I think that most of us have that urge in us. We don’t want to be disappointing to people. We don’t want to appear selfish to anyone. Sometimes, that isn’t the best way. He has the opportunity to be honest from the start of the novel but he isn’t. He has the opportunity to prove that she is really psychotic but he doesn’t. Because he’s a coward and is too afraid of letting people down.

5. ‘We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time.’ Is everything hopelessly derivative in the modern media-dominated world? Does it make us all essentially bored? For a lot of people, yes. I think for so many people now, it is easy to just view something online. But those people will never appreciate something. They will take things for granted and be unfulfilled. Why not experience as much as possible first hand?

6. ‘No one likes to look at the underside of things’. True of all of us, or just Nick? I suppose most people would prefer it if things were just happy and perfect all of the time, and could just sweep their problems under a rug. I like to think that I’m not like that. If there is a problem or something horrible that has happened or an unpleasant issue, I like to get it out in the open and deal with it. I think a big problem with society is that many people don’t. Nick certainly falls into the category of those who just like to pretend that all is fine.

7. ‘I am a big fan of the lie of omission.’ At this point in Gone Girl, as Nick attempts to turn off the alarm in his Dad’s house, what were you thinking he had left out? At this point I was still very suspicious that he had killed Amy, or kidnapped her. I was very eagre to find what was in his Dads house and expected it to be something awful and disturbing.

8. ‘Love makes you want to be a better man – right, right. But maybe love, real love, also gives you permission to just be the man you are.’ Do you agree with Nick? Yes and no. I think that love does make you want to be better for that person. Surely you want to be the very best you can be for them, to make them happy, to love them, to make them feel secure. But we should also be forgiven for our downfalls. We shouldn’t be put up on pedestals, and be told that we’re perfect, when we’re just human beings trying to do our best. I’m not saying that everything you do wrong should be forgiven, though. You should at least try.

9. ‘She’s easy to like. I’ve never understood why that’s considered a compliment – that just anyone oculd like you.’ Does this say something about Amy, or do you agree with her? Really, who wants to be difficult to get on with? I find that if you’re difficult to get on with, it’s because you aren’t a very nice person. You’re awkward, or mean, or ignorant. I completely think it says something about Amy, and her need to stand out.

10. ‘Americans love to see sinners apologize.’ Why is that, do you think? What does it say about the American psyche? Not being an American, I suppose that this one is hard for me to answer. I suppose on some level it might mean that a lot of the time people don’t like to admit their own wrong doings, so they love it when others have no choice. On another level it might mean that they want people to be forgiven for their sins in an attempt to make the world a better place.

11. Does Amy bring out the best in Nick? No. Neither of them bring out the best in each other. He makes her psychotic, she makes him cowardly.

This was a great read, I’m pleased I stuck with it! What did you think of it?

Categories: Reviews

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