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Gone Girl
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Gone Girl

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Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown Publishers, 2012
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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Horror
Sub-Genre Tags: Psychological
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Film & Television Adaptations

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Twentieth Century Fox
10/3/2014

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Synopsis

Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media-as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents-the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter-but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.


Excerpt

Chapter One

Nick Dunne
the day of

When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.

I’d know her head anywhere.

And what’s inside it. I think of that too: her mind. Her brain, all those coils, and her thoughts shuttling through those coils like fast, frantic centipedes. Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

My eyes flipped open at exactly six a.m. This was no avian fluttering of the lashes, no gentle blink toward consciousness. The awakening was mechanical. A spooky ventriloquist- dummy click of the lids: The world is black and then, showtime! 6- 0- 0 the clock said— in my face, first thing I saw. 6- 0- 0. It felt different. I rarely woke at such a rounded time. I was a man of jagged risings: 8:43, 11:51, 9:26. My life was alarmless.

At that exact moment, 6- 0- 0, the sun climbed over the skyline of oaks, revealing its full summer angry- god self. Its reflection flared across the river toward our house, a long, blaring finger aimed at me through our frail bedroom curtains. Accusing: You have been seen. You will be seen.

I wallowed in bed, which was our New York bed in our new house, which we still called the new house, even though we’d been back here for two years. It’s a rented house right along the Mississippi River, a house that screams Suburban Nouveau Riche, the kind of place I aspired to as a kid from my split- level, shag- carpet side of town. The kind of house that is immediately familiar: a generically grand, unchallenging, new, new, new house that my wife would— and did— detest.

“Should I remove my soul before I come inside?” Her first line upon arrival. It had been a compromise: Amy demanded we rent, not buy, in my little Missouri hometown, in her firm hope that we wouldn’t be stuck here long. But the only houses for rent were clustered in this failed development: a miniature ghost town of bank- owned, recession- busted, price- reduced mansions, a neighborhood that closed before it ever opened. It was a compromise, but Amy didn’t see it that way, not in the least. To Amy, it was a punishing whim on my part, a nasty, selfish twist of the knife. I would drag her, caveman- style, to a town she had aggressively avoided, and make her live in the kind of house she used to mock. I suppose it’s not a compromise if only one of you considers it such, but that was what our compromises tended to look like. One of us was always angry. Amy, usually.

Do not blame me for this particular grievance, Amy. The Missouri Grievance. Blame the economy, blame bad luck, blame my parents, blame your parents, blame the Internet, blame people who use the Internet. I used to be a writer. I was a writer who wrote about TV and movies and books. Back when people read things on paper, back when anyone cared about what I thought. I’d arrived in New York in the late ’90s, the last gasp of the glory days, although no one knew it then. New York was packed with writers, real writers, because there were magazines, real magazines, loads of them. This was back when the Internet was still some exotic pet kept in the corner of the publishing world— throw some kibble at it, watch it dance on its little leash, oh quite cute, it definitely won’t kill us in the night. Think about it: a time when newly graduated college kids could come to New York and get paid to write. We had no clue that we were embarking on careers that would vanish within a decade.

I had a job for eleven years and then I didn’t, it was that fast. All around the country, magazines began shuttering, succumbing to a sudden infection brought on by the busted economy. Writers (my kind of writers: aspiring novelists, ruminative thinkers, people whose brains don’t work quick enough to blog or link or tweet, basically old, stubborn blowhards) were through. We were like women’s hat makers or buggy- whip manufacturers: Our time was done. Three weeks after I got cut loose, Amy lost her job, such as it was. (Now I can feel Amy looking over my shoulder, smirking at the time I’ve spent discussing my career, my misfortune, and dismissing her experience in one sentence. That, she would tell you, is typical. Just like Nick, she would say. It was a refrain of hers: Just like Nick to . . . whatever followed, whatever was just like me, was bad.) Two jobless grown- ups, we spent weeks wandering around our Brooklyn brownstone in socks and pajamas, ignoring the future, strewing unopened mail across tables and sofas, eating ice cream at ten a.m. and taking thick afternoon naps.

Then one day the phone rang. My twin sister was on the other end. Margo had moved back home after her own New York layoff a year before— the girl is one step ahead of me in everything, even shitty luck. Margo, calling from good ole North Carthage, Missouri, from the house where we grew up, and as I listened to her voice, I saw her at age ten, with a dark cap of hair and overall shorts, sitting on our grandparents’ back dock, her body slouched over like an old pillow, her skinny legs dangling in the water, watching the river fl ow over fish- white feet, so intently, utterly self- possessed even as a child. Go’s voice was warm and crinkly even as she gave this cold news: Our indomitable mother was dying. Our dad was nearly gone— his (nasty) mind, his (miserable) heart, both murky as he meandered toward the great gray beyond. But it looked like our mother would beat him there. About six months, maybe a year, she had. I could tell that Go had gone to meet with the doctor by herself, taken her studious notes in her slovenly handwriting, and she was teary as she tried to decipher what she’d written. Dates and doses.

“Well, fuck, I have no idea what this says, is it a nine? Does that even make sense?” she said, and I interrupted. Here was a task, a purpose, held out on my sister’s palm like a plum. I almost cried with relief.

“I’ll come back, Go. We’ll move back home. You shouldn’t have to do this all by yourself.”

She didn’t believe me. I could hear her breathing on the other end.

“I’m serious, Go. Why not? There’s nothing here.”

A long exhale. “What about Amy?”

That is what I didn’t take long enough to consider. I simply assumed I would bundle up my New York wife with her New York interests, her New York pride, and remove her from her New York parents— leave the frantic, thrilling futureland of Manhattan behind— and transplant her to a little town on the river in Missouri, and all would be fine.

I did not yet understand how foolish, how optimistic, how, yes, just like Nick I was for thinking this. The misery it would lead to.

“Amy will be fine. Amy . . .” Here was where I should have said, “Amy loves Mom.” But I couldn’t tell Go that Amy loved our mother, because after all that time, Amy still barely knew our mother. Their few meetings had left them both baffled. Amy would dissect the conversations for days after—“And what did she mean by . . . ,” as if my mother were some ancient peasant tribeswoman arriving from the tundra with an armful of raw yak meat and some buttons for bartering, trying to get something from Amy that wasn’t on offer.

Amy didn’t care to know my family, didn’t want to know my birthplace, and yet for some reason, I thought moving home would be a good idea.

My morning breath warmed the pillow, and I changed the subject in my mind. Today was not a day for second- guessing or regret, it was a day for doing. Downstairs, I could hear the return of a long- lost sound: Amy making breakfast. Banging wooden cupboards (rump- thump!), rattling containers of tin and glass (ding- ring!), shuffling and sorting a collection of metal pots and iron pans (ruzz-shuzz!). A culinary orchestra tuning up, clattering vigorously toward the finale, a cake pan drumrolling along the floor, hitting the wall with a cymballic crash. Something impressive was being created, probably a crepe, because crepes are special, and today Amy would want to cook something special.

It was our five- year anniversary.

I walked barefoot to the edge of the steps and stood listening, working my toes into the plush wall- to- wall carpet Amy detested on principle, as I tried to decide whether I was ready to join my wife. Amy was in the kitchen, oblivious to my hesitation. She was humming something melancholy and familiar. I strained to make it out— a folk song? a lullabye?—and then realized it was the theme to M*A*S*H. Suicide is painless. I went downstairs.

I hovered in the doo...

Copyright © 2012 by Gillian Flynn


Reviews

Gone Girl

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