Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Broadway Books
Page Count: 415
Publication Date: 2014
Category/Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Contemporary Fiction
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.06)
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn
*Questions are a mix from Rabbit Hole Blogger and the publisher. Questions may contain spoilers.
1. Consider Amy and Nick Dunne as characters. Do you find them sympathetic at first? Talk about the ways each reveals him/herself over the course of the novel. At what point do your sympathies begin to change (if they do)?
2. Nick insists from the beginning he had nothing to do with Amy’s disappearance. Did you believe him, initially? When did you begin to suspect that he might have something to do with it? At what point did you begin to think he might not?
3. How would you describe the couple’s marriage? What does it look like from the outside and what does it look like from the inside? Where do the stress lines fall in their relationship?
4. How does the book deal with the divide between perception and reality, or between public image and private lives? Which characters are most skillful at navigating this divide, and how?
5. On their fifth anniversary, Nick wonders, “What have we done to each other? What will we do?” Is that the kind of question that might present itself in any marriage? Yours? In other words, does this novel make you wonder about your own relationship? And can you ever truly know the other person?
6. Nick writes, “I got secretly furious, spent ten minutes just winding myself up — because at this point of our marriage, I was so used to being angry with her, it felt almost enjoyable, like gnawing on a cuticle: You know you should stop, that it doesn’t really feel as good as you think, but you can’t quit grinding away”. Have you experienced this dynamic? Why do you think it feels good to be angry sometimes?
7. Amy and Nick lie. When did you begin to suspect that the two were lying to one another and to you, the reader? Why do they lie? what do they gain by it?
8. Do you find the Gillian Flynn’s technique of alternating first-person narrations compelling or irritating? Would you have preferred a single, straightforward narrator? What does the author gain by using two different voices?
9. Did you feel more drawn to the characters than you otherwise would have if they hadn’t been speaking directly to you? Do you think they appeared more or less believable in this direct narrative?
10. A skillful mystery writer knows which details to reveal and when to reveal them. How much do you know and when do you know it? In other words, how good is Flynn at burying her clues in plain sight? Now that you know how the story plays out, go back and pick out the clues she left behind for you.
11. In what way does Amy’s background—her parents’ books about her perfection—affect her as an adult?
12. The Dunnes move to North Carthage, near Hannibal, the home of Mark Twain. How has Tom Sawyer been worked into Gone Girl and why? What does that extra-textual detail add to the story?
13. Did you suspect Nick’s big secret? Were you surprised—shocked—by it? Or did you have an inkling?
14. Does Amy try hard enough to like North Carthage? Or is she truly a duck out of the water, too urbane to ever fit into a small, Midwestern town?
15. What is Amy’s treasure hunts all about? Why does she initiate them for Nick?
16. Flynn has said about the ending, “I wrote the ending that was the most unsettling to me. I am a big fan of the ending of unease. To me it feels real and it feels unnerving. Because you may not know exactly what is going to happen next in Gone Girl World, but you know it’s not good.” What kind of endings do you like best?
17. At the end, Amy says “I really, truly wish he hadn’t said that. I keep thinking about it. I can’t stop.” Do you think this is the author’s set up for a sequel? If so what do you think would make a good sequel?