Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was one of the most talked about books of 2013 but, typically, I’m behind the times and have only just read it.
The first couple of pages of the paperback edition that I borrowed from the library are covered in excellent reviews from newspapers and magazines so I was expecting great things.
For those of you who don’t know the story, very briefly Nick’s wife Amy goes missing after what appears to have been a fight or struggle in their house. The police have difficulty working out what has happened and Nick becomes a murder suspect. But all is not what it seems …
What did I think?
I’ve got very mixed feelings about Gone Girl. I loved the way it was written from two different viewpoints, switching between Nick and his wife Amy. This technique seems to allow the reader into the heads of both main characters, which I like. However, I found the first half of the book a plodding rather than a ‘thrilling’ read and I kept wondering when the story was going to ‘grip’ me like the reviewers had promised it would.
Then halfway through the book there is a big switch. At this point the reader realises that he’s been ‘had’ and that one character has been an unreliable narrator. We then start getting the truth about what happened to Amy and from then on I was, as promised, ‘gripped’. I read the second half of the book much quicker than the first.
But the ending seemed an anti-climax to me. I don’t want to give anything away but to my mind it wasn’t satisfactory – I wanted the villain to be punished.
Having said all that, I’ve given it 4 stars on Amazon because I did enjoy the story . But I wish the first half had been a little shorter – the book would have been a much tighter and, for me, a more gripping read.
The film version of Gone Girl will be released towards the end of 2014.
Has anyone else read it? What did you think?
Finally, I was interviewed by the lovely Lin Treadgold this week and you can read all about it on Lin’s blog. She asked some interesting questions, including one of those difficult, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years time’, queries. And our pet goldfish, Reg, even gets a name check! Read it for yourself here.
#1 by journeyofjordannaeast on February 13, 2014 - 12:58 am
I read it last year and absolutely loved it. I do agree that the first half of the book was a bore, especially for me because it read like an article in Cosmo and I’m not the girliest girl ever. I have to disagree about the ending, though your opinion about it is definitely that of the majority. But when you think about the kinds of thrillers I write, with sympathetic antagonists, I guess I enjoyed the fact that the bad guy wasn’t punished. Lol.
#2 by Sally Jenkins on February 13, 2014 - 10:10 am
Hi Jordanna – glad I’m not the only one who found the first half slow but I stick to my guns on the ending – call me old-fashioned but I like to see the baddie punished! Having said that, I did enjoy your book.
#3 by tmewalsh on February 13, 2014 - 9:19 am
Your review pretty much sums up how I felt about the book. I definitely felt a bit cheated at the end.
#4 by Sally Jenkins on February 13, 2014 - 10:14 am
Thanks for dropping by, Tania – and for agreeing with me! I wonder if the book was over-hyped?
#5 by Julia Thorley on February 13, 2014 - 9:47 am
It just goes to show how unreliable reviews can be. I’ve tried three times to read ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’, but just can’t get into it. Is it me, as someone once said? Everyone else I know who has read it raves about it.
#6 by Sally Jenkins on February 13, 2014 - 10:15 am
I don’t think it’s you, Julia. We all respond differently to things. I saw & enjoyed the film of Captain Corelli but can’t comment on the book. What about anybody else?
#7 by hilarycustancegreen on February 15, 2014 - 9:51 am
Hmm. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has, I agree, one of the slowest starts ever, BUT I do think every page thereafter is worth the wait. I found the film very sentimental and thin after the book.
#8 by Nick Daws on February 13, 2014 - 10:52 am
I enjoyed the book of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, although it undoubtedly helped that Kefalonia, where it is set, is one of my favourite holiday destinations. Having said, it’s not a book I’ve ever had the urge to re-read, which perhaps says something about it. Still a great book to take on holiday to Greece with you, though!
#9 by Sally Jenkins on February 13, 2014 - 12:38 pm
Thanks, Nick. Captain Corelli is obviously a book that suits some but not others. Another good book to read if you’re going to Greece on holiday is The Island by Victoria Hislop – it’s about a Leper colony I really enjoyed it
#10 by hilarycustancegreen on February 15, 2014 - 10:00 am
Wow, you are picking up on some of my strongest book reactions. Victoria Hislop’s The Island left me gobsmacked. I thought the plot and the story were terrific, but the writing, to put it politely, left an awful lot to be desired. I could not imagine how it had got past the publishing barriers, except by the name. Our book group have since read her The Return and were split by those who simply loved the story and those who found the prose maddening (and thought it was the same story as The Island).
#11 by Sally Jenkins on February 15, 2014 - 4:58 pm
I haven’t read The Return, Hilary but read The Island a few years ago. I thought the story was great but can’t remember much about the actual writing style. Will have to try The Return and look at the prose.
#12 by blogaboutwriting on February 13, 2014 - 1:14 pm
Sally, I read Gone Girl before all the ‘hype’ because I got an advance ‘review’ copy via Waterstones (big show-off that I am), so I read it without any expectations – except that my mum had read it first and really enjoyed it. I have to say that it gripped me right from the start. And I thought it was beautifully written. Every chapter read like a short story, I thought. I really envied the writing!! Agree with you about the ending – but then, lots of books fall flat at the end – but overall I thought it was great and I loved the ‘twist’ in the middle. Funny you should mention ‘unreliable narrators’ as we were talking about this in the class today and someone mentioned ‘Gone Girl’! I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the book when they turn it into a film. I’ve read somewhere that they’ve changed the ending but that might not be right.
#13 by Sally Jenkins on February 14, 2014 - 7:24 am
Helen, interesting to hear your thoughts. And I agree the writing was good. Usually I think films are never as good as the book but I’d like to see Gone Girl if they’ve changed the ending.
#14 by networksue on February 13, 2014 - 2:08 pm
Thanks Sally but I had to skip through most of your post because I haven’t read it yet and it’s on the list for book group later in the year! I even picked up a copy in a Bewdley shop today, so a very timely message 🙂 I read your interview and enjoyed it. Best wishes.
#15 by Sally Jenkins on February 14, 2014 - 7:26 am
Hope I haven’t spoiled anything for you, Sue! Come back & let us know your book group consensus when you’ve read Gone Girl. And glad you enjoyed the interview!
#16 by Tracy Fells on February 13, 2014 - 2:38 pm
Totally agree with you on the ending, Sally – it was quite a let down. A good holiday read, but afterwards I quickly forgot it and it went swiftly onto the charity book pile.
#17 by Sally Jenkins on February 14, 2014 - 7:27 am
Yes, it is an easy holiday read isn’t it, Tracy? And there’s nothing wrong with that – often stuff that is easy to read can be difficult to write.
#18 by Jan Baynham on February 15, 2014 - 12:27 pm
I read all the comments with interest, Sally. I’m behind the times too and I’ve got ‘Gone Girl’ for my Kindle ready to read on holiday in two weeks time. The other reason I’m interested in it is that the novel I’m trying to write has a dual narrative throughout too and I’m looking forward to seeing how Gillian Flynn handles that.
#19 by Sally Jenkins on February 15, 2014 - 5:00 pm
Hi Jan, hope you enjoy the holiday & Gone Girl. I like dual narratives but I bet it needs careful planning to sustain the technique throughout a novel. Good Luck!
#20 by 35andupcynicismonhold on February 16, 2014 - 5:43 am
hello, ms. Sally… the book sounds interesting, will have to find a copy, thanks for sharing. may you have a fruitful 2014… 🙂 kind regards ~San
#21 by Sally Jenkins on February 16, 2014 - 10:31 am
Thanks for dropping by, San and I hope you enjoy the book.