Yes, I know, y’all read this three years ago, when it was new and hot. But I just finished it. So cast your mind back…
(But if you not have read it (or seen the movie] yet: Spoilers ahead.)
What it’s about, basically
Nick Dunne’s beautiful wife Amy disappears on their anniversary date. The house shows signs of a struggle, but almost in a staged way. The police have to consider Nick a suspect.
What I liked
This was an awesome vacation read. It was very gripping, the plot’s twists and turns continually holding my interest. A perfect way to while away the hours on the sun deck.
But I also found the narrative structure very intriguing. Despite the fact that the story was being told in the first person by Nick—we still weren’t getting the whole story. He was keeping secrets not only from the police, but from us, the readers.
This (along with some of the movie publicity, I must admit) becomes a clue that we should possibly also doubt Amy’s diary entries that intersperse Nick’s telling of her disappearance in the first part of the novel. Who can you trust?
What I had some issues with
The story’s structure is such that we’re supposed to find some equivalencies between Amy and Nick, I think, but, but… Amy is a murderous, vengeful psychopath. Nick is a bit flawed and weak.
Of course, Amy’s extremes made for this very enthralling plot—but it was very extreme.
About that ending
I talked to a number of people about this book and the movie. A lot of people hated the ending. A few people thought it was just right. But love it or hate it, one thing they had in common was: They couldn’t quite remember what the ending was. Only their feelings about it. Curious.
Well, at this point, I can still remember the ending, and I wasn’t crazy about it. It seemed a rather odd choice. And yet I wasn’t sure how I would have preferred that it end. I was briefly determined to see the movie, as I had somehow got in my head that it ended differently than the book, and I was curious to see an alternative. But further research dashed my hopes: It has the exact same ending, apparently.
Guess I’ll wait to see the movie when I forget the ending, as that seems an inevitable occurrence…
What the book says about marriage
I’ve heard this “it’s an indictment of marriage” theory, but frankly, I don’t think this book says anything about marriage in general. Heck, given the narrative structure, we don’t even learn about Nick and Amy’s specific marriage. Not really. We only find out about it through a lying diary and the fog of memory (his and hers). It’s all past tense, and at a very tense time for both!
Really, I think, the only lesson you can take is: Try not to marry a murderous psychopath.
Can we blame Amy’s parents?
This was another theory i’d heard before reading the book, and then I kept waiting for Amy’s parents to do so or say something that would give a hint as to how they had turned her into what she was, but… Bupkus. Sure, they weren’t perfect. She was an only child, they literally elevated her to “Amazing Amy” status through a series of books they wrote, but not every spoiled kid turns into this.
It’s probably best not to try to find deep meaning in a fun vacation read. Even one written with such skill.