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Book review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I might have been the last person on earth to have read Gone Girl, but I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. What a ride!

Gillian Flynn’s bestseller charts the disappearance of Amy in what looks like a kidnapping. While the small community and police in the small town where they live are initially sympathetic to her husband, suspicion eventually falls on him.

However, any reader who tries to guess who is to blame and what will happen next is more than likely to be wrong. The story has so many twists it might well have been written by Chubby Checker.

What makes this book rise above so many other novels of its kind is the writing that is engaging and peppered with interesting and perceptive observations about family, relationships and human nature.

Flynn manages to combine a ripping yarn with writing that is clever and surprising.

She writes of the manager of cheap cabins in middle America: “Dorothy has one of those ‘70s kitten-in-a-tree posters – Hang in There! She posts her poster with all sincerity. I like to picture her running into some self-impressed Williamsburg bitch, all Bettie Page bangs and pointy glasses, who owns the same poster ironically. I’d like to listen to them try to negotiate with each other. Ironic people always dissolve when confronted with earnestness, it’s their kryptonite.”

As Amy, Flynn was brutal in her assessment of a certain type of behaviour that women engage in to please men. I loved the way she pretended to support such behaviour – drinking with the boys, not being ‘high maintenance’, before thoroughly rejecting it.

Some of her characters are mere caricatures, such as the lawyer who is engaged by Amy’s husband, Nick, but they are still great fun.

Finally, there is no doubt that Amy is amazing, as her parents suggested in the ‘Amazing Amy’ books they published throughout her childhood. While so many crime books and television programs centre on a powerless woman who is harmed by a man, Gone Girl is anything but powerless. She might not be innocent, but she is magnificent, and has made many husbands look more carefully and nervously at their wives.

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