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Gone Girl (Flynn)

Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn, 2012
Crown Publishing
432 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780307588364


Summary
Marriage can be a real killer.

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.

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. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—N/A
Raised—Kansas City, Missour, USA
Education—B.A., University of Kansas; M.A.,
   Northwest University
Awards—Ian Fleming Steel Daggers
Currently—lives in Chicago, Illinois


Gillian Flynn is an American author and former television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has published three novels: Sharp Objects (2006), Dark Places (2009) and Gone Girl (2012).

The plot of Sharp Objects revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned to her hometown from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families, violence and self-harm. In Dark Places a woman who investigates whether or not her incarcerated brother was truly responsible for the murder of their family in the 1980s, which happened when she was a child during the era of panic about Satanic ritual abuse. Her third novel, Gone Girl (2012) concerns the disappearance of Amy Dunne, and her husband is under investigation by the police.

All three novels have received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. In 2007, Sharp Objects was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer; Crime Writers' Association(CWA) Duncan Lawrie; CWA New Blood; and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories. (From Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
Ms. Flynn's dazzling breakthrough. It is wily, mercurial, subtly layered and populated by characters so well imagined that they're hard to part with—even if, as in Amy's case, they are already departed. And if you have any doubts about whether Ms. Flynn measures up to Patricia Highsmith’s level of discreet malice, go back and look at the small details. Whatever you raced past on a first reading will look completely different the second time around.
Janet Maslin - New York Times


Ice-pick-sharp… Spectacularly sneaky… Impressively cagey… Gone Girl is Ms. Flynn’s dazzling breakthrough. It is wily, mercurial, subtly layered and populated by characters so well imagined that they’re hard to part with—even if, as in Amy’s case, they are already departed.  What makes Flynn so fearless a writer is the way she strips her characters of their pretenses and shows no mercy while they squirm…Flynn dares the reader to figure out which instances of marital discord might flare into a homicidal rage.
Marilyn Stasio - New York Times Book Review


Gillian Flynn's new novel, Gone Girl, is that rare thing: a book that thrills and delights while holding up a mirror to how we live… Through her two ultimately unreliable narrators, Flynn masterfully weaves the slow trickle of critical details with 90-degree plot turns… Timely, poignant and emotionally rich, Gone Girl will peel away your comfort levels even as you root for its protagonists—despite your best intuition.
San Francisco Chronicle


I picked up Gone Girl because the novel is set along the Mississippi River in Missouri and the plot sounded intriguing. I put it down two days later, bleary-eyed and oh-so-satisfied after reading a story that left me surprised, disgusted, and riveted by its twists and turns… A good story presents a reader with a problem that has to be resolved and a few surprises along the way. A great story gives a reader a problem and leads you along a path, then dumps you off a cliff and into a jungle of plot twists, character revelations and back stories that you could not have imagined. Gone Girl does just that.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Gillian Flynn's barbed and brilliant Gone Girl has two deceitful, disturbing, irresistible narrators and a plot that twists so many times you'll be dizzy. This "catastrophically romantic" story about Nick and Amy is a "fairy tale reverse transformation" that reminded me of Patricia Highsmith in its psychological suspense and Kate Atkinson in its insanely clever plotting.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 
For a creepy, suspenseful mystery, Ms. Pearl suggested Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a novel due out this week. "You will not be able to figure out the end at all. I could not sleep the night after I read it. It's really good," Ms. [Nancy] Pearl said. "It's about the way we deceive ourselves and deceive others.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 
Flynn’s third noir thriller recently launched to even more acclaim than the first two novels, polishing her reputation for pushing crime fiction to a new literary level and as a craftsman of deliciously twisting and twisted plots.
Kansas City Star
 

To call Gillian Flynn's new novel almost review-proof isn't a put-down, it's a fact. That's because to give away the turn-of-the-screw in this chilling portrait of a marriage gone wrong would be a crime. I can say that Gone Girl is an ingenious whodunit for both the Facebook generation and old-school mystery buffs. Whoever you are, it will linger, like fingerprints on a gun… Flynn's characters bloom and grow, like beautiful, poisonous plants. She is a Gothic storyteller for the Internet age.
Cleveland Plain Dealer


That adage of no one knows what goes on behind closed doors moves the plot of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn's suspenseful psychological thriller… Flynn's unpredictable plot of Gone Girl careens down an emotional highway where this couple dissects their marriage with sharp acumen… Flynn has shown her skills at gripping tales and enhanced character studies since her debut Sharp Objects, which garnered an Edgar nod, among other nominations. Her second novel Dark Places made numerous best of lists. Gone Girl reaffirms her talent.
Oline Cogdill - South Florida Sun-Sentinel


An ingenious and viperish thriller… It’s going to make Gillian Flynn a star… The first half of Gone Girl is a nimble, caustic riff on our Nancy Grace culture and the way in which ''The butler did it'' has morphed into ''The husband did it.'' The second half is the real stunner, though. Now I really am going to shut up before I spoil what instantly shifts into a great, breathless read. Even as Gone Girl grows truly twisted and wild, it says smart things about how tenuous power relations are between men and women, and how often couples are at the mercy of forces beyond their control. As if that weren’t enough, Flynn has created a genuinely creepy villain you don't see coming. People love to talk about the banality of evil. You’re about to meet a maniac you could fall in love with.
Jeff Giles - Entertainment Weekly


A great crime novel, however, is an unstable thing, entertainment and literature suspended in some undetermined solution. Take Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the third novel by one of a trio of contemporary women writers (the others are Kate Atkinson and Tana French) who are kicking the genre into a higher gear… You couldn’t say that this is a crime novel that’s ultimately about a marriage, which would make it a literary novel in disguise. The crime and the marriage are inseparable. As Gone Girl works itself up into an aria of ingenious, pitch-black comedy (or comedic horror — it’s a bit of both), its very outlandishness teases out a truth about all magnificent partnerships: Sometimes it’s your enemy who brings out the best in you, and in such cases, you want to keep him close.
Salon


A portrait of a marriage so hilariously terrifying, it will make you have a good hard think about who the person on the other side of the bed really is. This novel is so bogglingly twisty, we can only give you the initial premise: on their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne’s beloved wife Amy disappears, and all signs point to very foul play indeed. Nick has to clear his name before the police finger him for Amy’s murder.
Time


Amy disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, and while Nick has not been a model husband, could he really have killed her? It's soon evident that if Amy is dead, that's the least of the reader's worries. Flynn's last novel, Dark Objects, was a New York Times best seller, but this one is expected to break her out.
Library Journal



Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Gone Girl:

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. 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?

5. 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?

6. 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?

7. 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.

8. Flynn divides her narrative into two parts. Why? What are the difference between the two sections?

9. In what way does Amy's background—her parents' books about her perfection—affect her as an adult?

10. 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?

11. Did you suspect Nick's big secret? Were you surprised—shocked—by it? Or did you have an inkling?

12. Does Amy try hard enough to like North Carthage? Or is she truly a duck out of water, too urbane to ever fit into a small, Midwestern town?

13. What are Amy's treasure hunts all about? Why does she initiate them for Nick?

14. Critics, to a one, talk about the book's dark humor and author's wit. What passages of the book do you find particularly funny?

15. Movie time: who would you like to see play what part?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

(Publisher-issued questions are here.)

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