I don’t normally do this, but with a smash hit thriller so famously full of twists and turns, I’m going to include SPOILERS. How exciting! I’ll give you good warning when they’re about to kick in...
Nick and Amy Dunne are preparing to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, but things aren’t good with their marriage. The couple, in their late 30s, have moved to his home town in Missouri after they both lost magazine jobs in New York, victims of the recession which looms as a motif in this unsettled world.
Before any anniversary celebrations can begin, Amy disappears in mysterious circumstances. There are signs of a struggle at the Dunnes’ home, but things don’t add up.
Gripping to the end, what happened to Amy is revealed to us in first person narrative by both Nick and Amy alternately.
Nick is the classic, shady noir narrator - a man with secrets. Amy’s story is told as diary entries, charting their relationship from its heady beginnings to more troubled recent times, with worrying signs which implicate Nick and undermine his less-than-convincing honesty in the present as he tries to persuade police and media of his innocence.
*SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * *SPOILER ALERT * *SPOILER ALERT *
The dazzling showpiece of the novel comes right in the middle, when it is in fact Amy who is revealed to be the even less reliable narrator, having written the diary entries as part of an elaborate plan to frame her husband for her murder.
This was the part of the novel which most impressed book club, and although everyone found it very readable, the ending could not match this impressively pulled-off and carefully constructed twist in the middle.
The ambivalence towards the two dishonest central characters was also commented on – as readers we weren’t particularly rooting for them – even when Amy appeared at first to be genuine, something didn’t quite ring true.
So, despite its impressive structure and power as a page-turner, ultimately the unsympathetic protagonists and anti-climactic conclusion left us if not cold, then decidedly underwhelmed.
Many agreed that it read like it would make a good film – perhaps even work better as a movie than a book, and it’s no surprise that the rights have been snapped up by Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon, with plans for director David Fincher to adapt the story for the big screen in the pipeline.