Narrative Style: Two first person accounts of events. Chronological timeline
Synopsis: Nick Dunne’s beautiful wife goes missing on the eve of their fifth wedding anniversary and he doesn’t react the way that loving husbands should. What secrets is he keeping from the police? But is this crime as obvious as it first appears?
Somehow I managed to avoid any spoilers for this book. I always sort of intended to read it as it had so much hype around it but it wasn’t at the very top of my list. However, I did know that it was a twisty little narrative so almost from the first I was trying not to be fooled by it. I guessed straightaway that the anniversary treasure hunt was going to figure highly and that once Nick worked out the clues, he receive his present – in this case a very long jail sentence. So at the end of the first section, I was more pleased that I was right than surprised. Once you realised the importance of the anniversary clues then it seemed apparent that Amy was behind it all. For me, this was by far the best section of the book. The contrast between Amy’s faked diaries and Nick’s view of her and their marriage was well portrayed and it was exciting trying to figure out exactly what must have happened.
I found Amy’s real voice even more annoying than the fake sweet girl of the diary entries. She was arrogant, self-centred and vindictive – almost impossible to empathize with. I was actually pleased when the two people she’d befriended at the motel where she was staying robbed her of her remaining cash because she was under the impression that she was infallible. Nick, however, developed some backbone and I began hoping that when she inevitably returned, he’d kill her as he kept imagining.
The final section was disappointing, I felt. There was still some tension but it soon became apparent that Nick would not be able to escape Amy’s clutches. That Nick would decide to stay with Amy seemed a step too far into the unlikely for me. His reasons were understandable – she becomes pregnant using stored sperm – but all the same it didn’t quite work for me.
Ultimately, this book left me feeling a little depressed. Amy seems like every man’s worst nightmare; controlling, manipulative, self-centred – all those nasty words that men like to throw at women. Flynn points out in an interview at the end of the book that she does have good points – she’s organised, intelligent, meticulous but that is a bit like letting a sociopath off the hook because they planned their crime to the letter. She’s a version of negative feminine stereotypes who wins in the end. Nick is her perfect opposite, taking the easy route of staying with her and appeasing his own conscience by saying its for the best for his inborn child. Some dubious sexual politics there. I was left wondering if the portrayal of Amy was sexist. Obviously not every portrayal of a woman should be positive but Amy is strong and she does get things done but she is also a monster. It made me feel uncomfortable.