SPOILERS!!! But what about the possibility - a theme maintained throughout the book - that Nick is motivated by the intoxication of WHO HE IS when he is with Amy? The book is about role-playing in marriage! At the end of the book he wants to be with Amy in spite of himself, partly because of how she makes him FEEL, as well as because of the pregnancy. I love the ending. How would you have ended it?
The problem with the "theme" argument, is that he is about to expose everything until the completely artificial introduction of the highly improbable pregnancy. That is the "oh, come on" moment that ruins the story. The ending is just impossible to believe; Nick is no longer intoxicated by then; he is fearful. He knows his wife is a manipulative, cold-blooded murderer. There is just no way he would stay with her. He is not that stupid. The logical ending is for the wife to go to prison due to some brilliant discovery by the policewoman, and for Nick to return to New York to try to recapture his old life. I think that the author avoided the logical course of the plot due to a misplaced admiration for the brilliant and entertaining sociopath she had created. I also wonder whether how one feels about the ending is gender related. I should add that I gave the book three stars, because there were so many elements that I thought were brilliant, just not the ending, and not the "imprisonment" bit with the old boy friend.
SPOILER***SPOILER***SPOILER*** I think Nick gave nearly as good as he got, Mary...Amy is overtly pschycotic, and Nick merely emotionally immature, spoiled and passive aggressive....they bounced off of each other pretty well.
Paul, Nick has been an abysmal husband and is not the most mature guy around, but would you really expect him to abandon the pregnant Amy, leaving his son in her unpredictable care? Remember, he is plagued with negative father/son issues. No way. Although I admit that the fertility treatment situation is not something I have any experience with, I suspect that Nick would have had to give his permission for the use of his "material", would he not? It would not have been hard to invent a way for the uber resourceful Amy to get around this, however...so this was a bit of a misstep on Ms. Flynn's part.
I loved the ending, the madness just perpetuates itself...would love to meet "little Nicky"...ha.
Ahhh, Paul, thank you - FINALLY someone has proposed an alternative ending! I've read so many complaints here and you're the first to have actually suggested another idea.
But think about it - is sending Amy to prison and having Nick return to his old life nearly as creepy and interesting? Yes, it may make more SENSE but to me it is much, much less satisfying in a literary way. Your way ends the story. Flynn's way continues the horror. Nick and Amy are still out there, as parents, no less, pulling the wool over the eyes of all around them (with a couple of exceptions). The reader is left to ponder the implications - what will become of them? Did you ever see the movie "Rosemary's Baby"? The ending was absolutely horrifying because evil was born into an oblivious world, and the mother accepted it. "Gone Girl" reminds me of that story in that Nick KNOWS the evil is there, and it appears he is resigned to living with it. It's truly a horror story this way - another level of story-telling than if the evil had been safely sent to prison. I think it's brilliant writing. And a fascinating book.
And I agree with you, Spindrift, that Nick wants this baby so desperately that he will stay in order to protect it.
Yes, the ending is creepy and interesting. But it is IMPOSSIBLE given what has gone before! Creepiness is fine if it is consistent with the previous elements of the plot. There is no hint in the early part of the story that Nick "desperately wanted a baby." There is no reason why he cannot find a sane partner and have one. Before he learned of the "pregnancy" why did he not suggest an autopsy to his policewoman-friend, which would have showed that the murdered man had extremely elevated levels of sleeping pills in his blood, making Amy's version of events impossible? Nick knows that Amy murdered a completely innocent man in his sleep, but he is willing to share a bed with her? Get real! He would have to be stupid, insane, or both, and nothing in the story hints that he is anything like that. How is he going to explain the credit card purchases now? The policewoman is not stupid either. Given what has happened before, the ONLY ending that works is either Amy's death or her imprisonment. Having her kill Nick and then herself works also; we already know that she is capable of violence. Spindrift and Woodstock - interesting exchanging ideas with you, but I somehow suspect that you are not male. If that is correct, it might partially explain our differences of opinion.
I think he stays mostly to protect the child but also because he wants to see how it all turns out. What will Amy do next? Can he help her? Can he change her? How will she change him? He's curious, he's flattered, he's feeling some guilt for not being a better husband -- but most of all, he's stuck.
I don't see any other logical ending except Amy winning. (Shades of Charlie Sheen.)
The logical ending can NOT include him staying with a cold-blooded murderer, which is what he knows she is. He is not stupid. There are a few logical possibilities; one is the same ending, but a clear establishment of an obsessive love for her early on. That is not done. The pregnancy ploy rings completely false; it is very difficult an very improbable to get pregnant the way she does, yet she actually counts on it. Ridiculous. There would have been an autopsy on the man she murdered that ought to have shown that he was drugged. Amy goes to jail. Nick falls for the policewoman. Even a murder-suicide makes more sense, given that Amy is a total psychopath, than what we got. I have said this before, but what we see if we examine the entire story is a dismal failure by the author to produce normal, believable male characters. From the time she loses all of her money, the story loses all credibility. And as I have said, I thought it was very good until then. There are some female authors (Jance comes to mind) who can write effectively about male protagonists, but based on just one book, this author is not one of them. ( Robert Parker is a favorite of mine, but I don't buy many of his female characters either).
If Nick had loved her obsessively from the beginning, we'd have an entirely different story.
An autopsy on Desi wouldn't have helped convict her. She only gave him three sleeping pills -- not enough to kill him, just enough to ensure that she'd be able to overpower him. Besides, the preparations Desi made for Amy showed his obsession with her -- painting the room, the greenhouse full of tulips. Easy for the cops to believe that she was his captive. Easier than believing a woman was smart enough to outwit everyone. Desi was at least as dangerous as Amy. Would he have ever let her leave?
I agree that the pregnancy was unnecessary. I think we knew enough about Nick's personality to believe he could be induced to stay with her, at least for awhile, without a baby. However, if for some reason Nick hadn't stayed, the child would serve as Amy's next obsession.
I agree Nick isn't "normal" but I found him believable. People do weirder things all the time.
Paul...I appreciate your logic, and have alot of respect for your opinion. But this book is fiction. It is a "pscycological thriller". Your ending makes so much more sense...but not so much fun. This book was a summer indulgence...a "fun" read. I admit that I had thoughts through the story that Nick may end up with "Boney Maroney" as well...but I enjoyed Gillan Flynn's ending so much more...
I suspect you may not read alot of fiction. I have a family member that is a True Crime author, and it makes it very hard for me to read crime fiction. There are just always so many implausibles. I was really taking a leap out of my genres of preferance when I chose to read "Gone Girl"...I enjoyed the book's narrative revolving around the pscycological study of the marriage much more than the crime drama. I found the "treasure hunt" clues rather ridiculous. But, I enjoyed the book on the basis of it's entertainment value very much...I think it kind of depends what kind of mood you are in at the time you make your reading choices.
I have enjoyed your input here very much and hope to run in to you on a future discussion board...Laurie
Thanks, Laurie and Pam. I wonder how many male readers found Nick's behavior at the end believable. You are wrong about how much fiction I read, Laurie! Although I am a chemist by profession, and I write textbooks, not fiction, I read mostly fiction. I enjoyed the book also, until it became absurd. Three sleeping pills are three times as many as a normal person would take, and could certainly indicate, given all the other evidence of Amy's psychosis, that a murder had taken place. The entire scene between Desi and Amy was poorly conceived, and marked the beginning of the downward spiral in what had been a really good story. I just read "Stolen Prey" by John Sandford - I have read just about the entire series, and in terms of plot construction, it was MILES better than Gone Girl. Yet until Amy lost her money, I was enjoying Gone Girl more - ready to give it 5 stars. It may be the scientist in me; even in fiction, things have to make some sense; intelligent people can't suddenly turn completely stupid, police do not easily give up murder investigations...
Sure! But Amy is a brilliant sociopath. Once you establish that she is "nuts" you can justify nearly any behavior. Nick is established as an intelligent, sane, fundamentally kind person. You can't suddenly turn him into an idiot willing to risk his life to share his house with an unapologetic killer. I could have bought nearly any ending consistent with her psychosis, including murder-suicide, (although I would not have liked it). But contrary to your opinion, Nick is NOT writ large. He is neither crazy, obsessive, nor stupid. The character that has been drawn for us in the first 4 fifths of the book would be RUNNING to the police for protection!
"Three sleeping pills are three times as many as a normal person would take, and could certainly indicate, given all the other evidence of Amy's psychosis, that a murder had taken place."
But Desi wasn't normal either. And there wasn't much evidence of Amy's psychosis. She had an explanation for everything, and the two other people she terrorized weren't believed. She threw herself down the stairs? Plus, as someone else has said, she was "Amazing Amy". It'd be hard for an ordinary person to separate Book Amy from Real Amy -- she had a prepackaged image of the girl who always did everything right.
I keep trying to come up with something the cops or Nick missed, but Amy had everything covered.
You don't take three sleeping pills and then slit your own throat. Amy missed that. There is no explanation for the huge credit card bills and the storeroom of unused merchandise other than that Amy planted all of it. The two other people she terrorized WOULD be believed now, in the face of all of the other evidence. And she confessed the crime to Nick; if no one else knows she is a murdering psychopath, HE knows. It is more believable that he would kill her than it is that he would live with her. It is also interesting, that several very intelligent people have argued this point with me, (that Nick could never have stayed with her) and they are all women. Sorry, but it doesn't fly. ( there are other huge flaws in the plot as well, particularly the credit card ploy, but also the inadequate preparation of this brilliant sociopath for her flight, the "afraid of blood" lie in the diaries -- wouldn't her parents know that was false? Surely she had blood tests as a young girl.) Still, the story is well written and interesting enough so that I could have ignored the many improbabilities, until the final one, the contrived and completely artificial resolution.
Amy admitted she killed Desi. Which was another smart thing she did -- admitting to killing him rather than trying to make his death look like a suicide. I'll concede that an autopsy should have shown the sleeping pills in his bloodstream, but with Amy admitting to cutting his jugular, maybe they didn't bother with an autopsy.
The cops didn't believe Amy planted the shed full of stuff because Nick's fingerprints were on those items, and the stuff was in Margo's shed.
I think she prepared beautifully. Seven years worth of diary entries, enough cash to be gone for awhile but not enough to raise suspicion, planting her purse in Hannibal, the notes that were innocent to everyone but Nick, credit cards and purchases in Nick's name which make Nick look like a user, confessing to Nick in such a way that she couldn't be recorded -- I think she did quite well.
As for the fear of blood, remember she "fainted" in front of a bunch of people. If her parents didn't know, it could be because blood tests for kids aren't routine. (Or at least they weren't when my kids were growing up.)
I can go either way. I would have been fine if Flynn would have had Nick kill Amy -- she certainly deserved punishment -- but I'm fine with the ending she chose. It might not be logical, but I think Flynn made it fit.
Ah, but now that the cops know that in fact Amy was NOT murdered, the stuff in the shed takes on new meaning! Amy planned her faked murder so well, that now that she is alive, it is pretty evident that everything else was faked. What does the purse in Hannibal mean now? The shed now makes sense ONLY as evidence that Amy manufactured as part of her ruse. Once you agree that the ending "might not be logical" you begin to see my problem with it. Also, Amy would have been arrested for murder. Perhaps she might not have been convicted, but she certainly would have been tried.
They know she wasn't murdered but they don't know she wasn't kidnapped by Desi.
I think what made her kidnapping story believable (1) her history with Desi and (2) the physical damage she did to herself -- the vaginal damage with the wine bottle and the marks on her wrists. What cop is going to accuse a possible rape victim of doing it to herself? Not a cop who wants to keep his job.
1. Desi was murdered. There would be a thorough investigation that would probably find that he had ingested sleeping pills right before being killed. 2. We have a credible witness who will testify that Amy faked a rape many years before. The witness is now credible since he has nothing to gain by testifying. 3. We have a credible witness who will testify that Amy faked being thrown down the stairs. 4. If she was actually kidnapped, then what did the credit card purchases mean? 5. If Desi actually kidnapped her, why would he bother to clean up the blood? What did the overturned furniture mean? The problem is that Amy set up the frame so well, that once she returned it was obvious to all, including the bright female detective, that she had tried to frame Nick. 6. Nick now knows that she is a cold-blooded murderer. He knows that she faked a rape even before he met her, and falsely implicated a friend in a manufactured accident. In other words, she is a dangerous psychopath, but the author would have us believe that he would stay with her. No way, Jose!! The ending is so bad, that I have to believe that the author came up with it AFTER having written (very well) most of the rest of the story.
Maybe the best way to reconcile this in our heads is to create our own ending that happens after Flynn's ending. Maybe Nick just waited for a time when he could kill Amy and make it look like an accident and then raise his child on his own, out of her grips. Happily ever after :-)
1. She told the cops that Desi took a sleeping pill every night so her sobbing wouldn't keep him awake. 2. A former/wannabe boyfriend who holds a grudge 3. A woman who Amy's parents will testify was deranged 4. Credit card purchases are evidence of Nick's instability (golf clubs for someone who never golfed) 5. The blood cleanup is a problem for Amy, since her story is that Desi wanted the scene to look like Amy just ran away. She waves this away by telling the cop that Desi was running out of time and decided to just leave it, make it look like something bad happened. 6. He goes through a lot before rationalizing his decision to stay. In the end, he says "Because I can feel her changing me again: I was a callow boy, and then a man, good and bad. Now at last I'm the hero. I am the one to root for in the never-ending war of our marriage. It's a story I can live with. Hell, at this point, I can't imagine my story without Amy. She is my forever antagonist. We are one long frightening climax."
Pam, I don't even think that you can convince yourself using that argument! 1. Not one sleeping pill, but three. The forensics would show that he had both sleeping pills AND alcohol in his system when he was killed. There would be no doubt that he had been killed while either asleep or heavily drugged, certainly not capable of rape. That makes it manslaughter at the very least, murder perhaps. 2. The former boyfriend would be believed, especially along with the woman who independently tells a similar tale. Testimony from the accused's parents really is not taken too seriously. There is no doubt that Amy would have been indicted.
4. But there is no OTHER evidence of Nick's "instability" while there is plenty of evidence of Amy's psychosis. Nick's "credit card purchases" make sense if he was actually looking forward to collecting Amy's life insurance. But since the police now know that was NOT the case, they will certainly conclude that the golf clubs were part of Amy's frame job.
5. The blood clean up is a huge problem. No cop is going to believe that Desi could have had time to kidnap her, and then to clean up most but not all of the blood, and turn over some improbable furniture, when the alternate explanation, that it was just part of a plot by an obviously psychotic woman works so much better. And there is another serious problem with this part of the story, which is why I thought the book went south once Desi was introduced near the end. How does Amy know that Desi had no alibi for the time during which the kidnaping had to have occurred? She can't know that! It is MUCH more probable that someone saw Desi during the time in question. 6. Not only can no one with a Y chromosome buy that - even the author herself could not buy it. The notion of Nick's deciding to stay with his murdering wife was so absurd, even to the author, that she conjured up a very improbable pregnancy to create a reason for him to stay. Again, very good writing, and a very interesting novel, seriously marred once Desi enters the picture.