GILLIAN FLYNN’s debut novel, Sharp Objects, was an Edgar Award finalist and the winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Brett Nolan, and a rather giant cat named Roy.
From the Hardcover edition.
: A Novel
A Reader’s Guide for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn For additional features, visit www.gillian-flynn.com. In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel. If you have not finished reading Gone Girl, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide. Introduction Deceit, infidelity, suspicion . . . and that’s only the beginning. When Nick and Amy fall in love, they are the confident, handsome man and the beautiful, privileged young woman embracing in front of their Brooklyn Heights brownstone and sharing a laugh at the expense of less blissful couples. Eventually, their picture-perfect union falters: Amy grows weary of the “cool girl” image she’s portrayed; Nick gives rein to old impulses and easy lies. As with many marriages, friction works its way into everyday exchanges, and the glow of the honeymoon fades. But with Amy and Nick, that fracture takes a much darker turn. In a story full of surprising twists, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl tracks the course of a marriage gone spectacularly wrong. For the protagonists, it’s a psychological battle with everything at stake; for the reader, an excavation of human failings and incredible depths of betrayal . . . and a mystery whose resolution is every bit as troubling as its beginning. Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. Do you like Nick or Amy? Did you find yourself picking a side? Do you think the author intends for us to like them? Why or why not? 2. Does the author intend for us to think of Nick or Amy as the stronger writer? Do you perceive one or the other as a stronger writer, based on their narration/journal entries? Why? 3. Do you think Amy and Nick both believe in their marriage at the outset? 4. Nick, ever conscious of the way he is being perceived, reflects on the images that people choose to portray in the world—constructed, sometimes plagiarized roles that we present as our personalities. Discuss the ways in which the characters—and their opinions of each other—are influenced by our culture’s avid consumption of TV shows, movies, and websites, and our need to fit each other into these roles. 5. Discuss Amy’s false diary, both as a narrative strategy by the author and as a device used by the character. How does the author use it to best effect? How does Amy use it? 6. What do you make of Nick’s seeming paranoia on the day of his fifth anniversary, when he wakes with a start and reports feeling, You have been seen? 7. As experienced consumers of true crime and tragedy, modern “audiences” tend to expect each crime to fit a specific mold: a story, a villain, a heroine. How does this phenomenon influence the way we judge news stories? Does it have an impact on the criminal justice system? Consider the example of the North Carthage police, and also Tanner Bolt’s ongoing advice to Nick. 8. What is Go’s role in the book? Why do you think the author wrote her as Nick’s twin? Is she a likable character? 9. Discuss Amy’s description of the enduring myth of the “cool girl”—and her conviction that a male counterpart (seemingly flawless to women) does not exist. Do you agree? Why does she assume the role if she seems to despise it? What benefit do you think she derives from the act? 10. Is there some truth to Amy’s description of the “dancing monkeys”—her friends’ hapless partners who are forced to make sacrifices and perform “sweet” gestures to prove their love? How is this a counterpoint to the “cool girl”? 11. What do you think of Marybeth and Rand Elliott? Is the image they present sincere? What do you think they believe about Amy? 12. 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? 13. How does the book capture the feel of the recession—the ending of jobs and contraction of whole industries; economic and geographical shifts; real estate losses and abandoned communities. Are some of Nick and Amy’s struggles emblematic of the time period? Are there any parts of the story that feel unique to this time period? 14. While in hiding, Amy begins to explore what the “real” Amy likes and dislikes. Do you think this is a true exploration of her feelings, or is she acting out yet another role? In these passages, what does she mean when she refers to herself as &ldquo
I refuse to summarize this story. I believe this is a fantastic book that should be relished without any prior knowledge of its plot. Wonderful prose. Insightful observations. Great character development. There are so many comments I would like to make, but I would ruin the suspense for others. I was/am so emotionally charged at the ending that I want to become a character in the story. Without spoiling the plot for those who chose to enjoy this incredible book, I suspect that many readers will have a similar reaction and would like to join me as residents of Carthage, Missouri.
This book grabbed me from page 1 and didn't let go until the end! It was one of those novels that made me hurry and put the kids to bed so i could find out what happened next. Didn't want it to end! So glad i discovered this author and look forward to reading her other two books.
It is interesting to me--but not surprising--that a tiny segment of this book's readers give it low marks. I detect two consistent themes in those reviews. Before I get to that, let me put in writing my FIRST reactions to this novel: creative and complex story, daring approach, flawless context, remarkably courageous personal insight, glib-witty-brutal-unflinching narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even when it made me itchy and twitchy and feel uncomfortably exposed. And THAT brings me to the second theme in those negative reviews. (I'll get to the first one in a moment). Be assured, if you decide to read this book you're going to find little pieces of yourself and of people you know or care about woven through the cast of characters. And it won't be the best pieces, either. It will be the quirks and traits and harsh sentiments that all of us hope to keep hidden, not only from others but from ourselves, as well. Not everyone can look at that kind of naked emotion and see it as powerful, revelatory writing. Some of us are going to find it uncomfortable enough to dislike the book and to find flimsy complaints on which to blame that dislike: characters, language, writing style. And some of us are going find it uncomfortable enough to dislike the book but recognize nonetheless that it is a riveting story told with skill, imagination, and intelligence, and therefore we have to go for criticism number one... the ending. Those are the criticisms that make the least sense to me. I can't imagine, after nearly 500 pages of wandering around in the skulls of these characters, what sort of happy or tragic or poetically just ending the critics might have anticipated. The end of the book (but certainly not the end of the story) is as natural and logical as all that leads us to it. Granted, that's not very natural or logical for most of us, but it's what THESE characters would do; it's what they DESERVE. And in that there is a sort of literary integrity. It's not a Hurray! or a Yahoo! or a Gotcha! It's not TV. It's a continuation of the lives these pathetically twisted people have knowingly, willingly, compulsively built for themselves.
I really enjoyed this book, and like everybody else, couldn't wait to finish to see what happened. The twists and turns just kept on coming. Is it "Brilliant"? - not so much. Is it "awful"? No. it's not that either. It's a fun read, and I would recommend it, but the comments about the ending are valid. Yes, it's what they both deserved, and it's predictable in retrospect; i just wanted something a little more satisfying and wrapped up neatly. I wanted the character who deserved to be exposed to be exposed - and I wanted the character who deserved to get revenge to get it
I think that the story is well written however, none of the main characters (and very few of the supporting characters) are likable - at all. I kept waiting for someone, anyone, to show even the tiniest bit of humanity or redemption. The world is not populated entirely by egotistical sociopaths. This was a horribly, unsatisfying read.
I was about 200 pages into the book. Was really enjoying it until... The last few pages of each chapter were repeated and pages were missing. Very disappointed. Very surprised that the publisher didn't test this effectively before putting the book into the iTunes store.
Whenever pages would repeat I would keep going until next chapter, I'd skip ahead a couple pages then go back, and where the pages had been repeating were the real pages, so try skipped ahead a chapter, then go back to where the pages were missing, they should be there then
“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. 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“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. A” —Jeff Giles, Entertainment Weekly“An irresistible summer thriller with a twisting plot worthy of Alfred Hitchcock. Burrowing deep into the murkiest corners of the human psyche, this delectable summer read will give you the creeps and keep you on edge until the last page.” —People (four stars)“[A] thoroughbred thriller about the nature of identity and the terrible secrets that can survive and thrive in even the most intimate relationships. Gone Girl begins as a whodunit, but by the end it will have you wondering whether there’s any such thing as a who at all.” —Lev Grossman, Time “How did things get so bad? That’s the reason to read this book. Gillian Flynn — whose award-winning Dark Places and Sharp Objects also shone a dark light on weird and creepy, not to mention uber dysfunctional characters — delves this time into what happens when two people marry and one spouse has no idea who their beloved really is.” —USA Today, Carol Memmott“It’s simply fantastic: terrifying, darkly funny and at times moving. The minute I finished it I wanted to start it all over again. Admirers of Gillian Flynn’s previous books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, will be ecstatic over Gone Girl, her most intricately twisted and deliciously sinister story, dangerous for any reader who prefers to savor a novel as opposed to consuming it whole in one sitting….” —Associated Press, Michelle Weiner“Gillian Flynn’s third novel is both breakneck-paced thriller and masterful dissection of marital breakdown… Wickedly plotted and surprisingly thoughtful, this is a terrifically good read.” —Boston Globe“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.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Oline Cogdill“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 “Ms. Flynn writes dark suspense novels that anatomize violence without splashing barrels of blood around the pages… But as in her other books, Ms. Flynn has much more up her sleeve than a simple missing-person case. As Nick and Amy's alternately tell their stories, marriage has never looked so menacing, narrators so unreliable.” —Wall Street Journal“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“Readers who prefer more virulent strains of unreality will appreciate the sneaky mind games of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, a thriller rooted in the portrait of a tricky and troubled marriage.” —New York Times“[Flynn has] quite outdone herself with a tale of marital strife so deliciously devious that it moves the finish line on The War of the Roses… A novel studded with disclosures and guided by purposeful misdirection… Flynn delivers a wickedly clever cultural commentary as well as a complex and driven mystery… What fun this novel is.” —New York Daily News “Flynn’s brilliantly constructed and consistently absorbing third novel begins on the Dunnes’ fifth wedding anniversary… The novel, which twists itself into new shapes, works as a page-turning thriller, but it’s also a study of marriage at its most destructive.” —Columbus 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