Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Psychiatric TimesVol 32 No 1
Volume 32
Issue 1

When I ask friends and colleagues about this book, most of them have really enjoyed it and would love to discuss it with me if I let them . . . but I don’t want to. Here's why.

This isn’t a review of the book or the movie. There have been, amazingly, over 91,000 published reviews of the book already. Probably no one needs another review, especially by me! Seems like “the whole world,” anyone who has wanted to, has already been through some version of this story. How do I know? I don’t . . . but just try casually bringing up Gone Girl at the next cocktail party or as you are waiting for a meeting, and see the reaction. What I have noticed is that people get animated by this topic. It isn’t the usual-wasn’t that a great book, or I couldn’t wait to finish that book. . . . Rather, there is clear-cut emotion that follows the question about any experience with this story. And many people don’t like the ending, that’s for sure.

I have to admit that I resisted reading the book. My 25-year-old daughter, Erica, cajoled me, wanting to share the “thrilling experience” and thought it would be a page-turner. She also wanted to see the movie with me, and as everyone knows, one should read the book before the movie version comes out.

So, I read the book . . . then I saw the movie. I found the book taxing to get through. I don’t particularly like reading one person’s perspective and then the other’s . . . but that is just a personal preference. Seems like some of the current series on television are using this methodology. That would be interesting to discuss; maybe it is a good strategy on a number of levels.

I don’t mind reading books, especially detective stories, in which there are sociopaths, or people with chaotic, disordered minds manifesting cruel or unusual behavior. With that said, I found the Gone Girl protagonists quite annoying and irritating. I kept turning the pages, but it was just to finish the book rather than to savor the story line. And then I saw the movie, which I know I wouldn’t have been able to follow without having read the book.

When I ask friends and colleagues about the book, most of them have really enjoyed it and would love to discuss it with me if I let them . . . but I don’t want to. Many want to discuss the ending and why they think there should have been a different conclusion. Some want to discuss their own emotions as they went through the book. I guess that is a great feat that an author can get us to have such feelings, to get us interested or excited, or very angry or sad.

Some of my non-psychiatrist friends want to find out what I, as a psychiatrist, thought about the protagonists. Do I have patients like this? What do I think was wrong with these folks? I always try to side step these issues because when I read a book, I genuinely try to read for enjoyment and to be a non-professional with works of fiction. It would be interesting to hear what your habits are and your experiences with this book/movie.

So, I am sorry if you wanted an in-depth review of Gone Girl. I bet many of you could have done a much better job. Like “everyone” else when it comes to Gone Girl, I wanted to let you know how I felt about it.

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