July 5th, 2012 was the fifth wedding anniversary for Nick Dunne and Amy Elliott Dunne. They did not celebrate the day together. In the bestseller "Gone Girl", author Gillian Flynn takes the classic elements of a good mystery novel and transforms the story into a psychological thriller by shining a provocative lens onto the intimate details of a fragile marriage. Circumstances trigger that which once was meant to be private and between husband and wife into tantalizing fodder for a hungry public.
The story begins in New York City where Nick and Amy work for different magazines, Amy as a quiz writer and Nick as an editor. A decline in the economy leads to the loss of their jobs. This event coincides with a change in family obligations, and the couple moves their lives to Nick's hometown of North Carthage, Missouri. Nick partners with his twin sister to open a bar, and Amy settles into the role of reluctant housewife governed by Midwest values and traditions.
The "normalcy" ends here when a single event catapults husband Nick into a dark journey of suspicion, fear, and uncertainty. As his life unravels, and boundaries of truth and fantasy are tested, the audience is left to wonder if Nick is actually the victimizer or the victim.
Readers are introduced to a colorful cast of supporting characters including eccentric parents, a faithful twin sister, old flame, new flame, a nosy neighbor, a flamboyant lawyer, and two "cops" borrowed from a formula detective novel. The media also steps in as a main character to manipulate public opinion based on perceptions of the present without any knowledge of the past. Lines of guilt and innocence are blurred by flashing cameras, waiting reporters, and daily news updates. The resulting headlines are recognized as being eerily similar to those highlighting actual events of today or those in recent memory. The power given information to put Nick and Amy's future in jeopardy is nothing short of scary.
The most intense lens of scrutiny is shined into the marriage. The layers of love between husband and wife are put on trial well outside of a courtroom, and many questions beg to be answered. How well do spouses actually know each other before committing a remaining lifetime to one another? Do men and women present a true self or assume a fictional identity for personal gain? Does love morph into something unrecognizable over time? When is the actual moment that stops the clock and ignites change? One can lift up the kitchen blinds each morning to the same landscape until one morning the view out the window may look different. What happened during the night?
"Gone Girl" assembles a collection of short stories and holds them together tightly with two well-developed characters in Nick and Amy. The "he said, she said" format is very effective as it builds towards a wild conclusion that keeps the reader turning the pages in anticipation. The novel is a true reading maze, and amidst each twist and turn, one fact remains crystal clear: the honeymoon is over!