I am not quite sure what to write about this book for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to give too much away; and 2) I’m not actually sure what I think. In light of this, I do hope that the following makes some sort of sense.
Nick and Amy are a married couple living in Missouri. Both were previously writers in New York who moved to Nick’s hometown for various reasons, the most prominent being his mother’s cancer diagnosis. Here they live in a big, new house in a quiet neighbourhood. Nick’s mother passes away and Nick and Amy stay. Nick owns a bar with his twin sister and has to deal with his father, who suffers from alzheimers, continually going missing from his nursing home; Amy is the newly unemployed trust-fund daughter of psychologist-turned-writer “soulmate” parents who based a book series named “Amazing Amy” on her life. At the beginning of the novel, before Nick and Amy have even met, Amy is attending the opening launch of her parents’ lastest book where “Amazing Amy” has grown up and married “Able Andy”. The real Amy is single and discussing this disconnect between her real life and her parents’ fictional version throughout her life.
We learn about how Nick and Amy met and then how their relationship develops over time. How they fall in love and get married and live in New York and then have to move away. Ordinary relationship things.
On Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy mysteriously goes missing. The story is narrated by both of them, which gives the effect of a kind of “he said-she said” tale where nothing is quite as it seems. I liked this aspect of the novel, as it does make you question the truth of both versions of events and, indeed, consider how people shape the truth and interpret events to meet their own agenda or fit in with their own view of the world. Things don’t always add up and the characters definitely do not act the way you’d expect them to act. This moral ambiguity was something I really enjoyed about the world Fynn creates. It is also something that creates a strong sense of unease throughout.
It may not come as a surprise, this considered, that the characters are rarely sympathetic. This has been used by many as a criticism of the story, however I think that the plot itself is driven by this exploration of the darker sides of the human psyche and the ways in which people behave (and, indeed, misbehave) in relationships. This certainly isn’t a thriller with an easy resolution. I can’t say that I felt good after reading it, but I think Flynn was right to end it the way she did. That said, it is not satisfying in the traditional sense, nor particularly frustrating. I felt thoroughly disconcerted and baffled when I finished it, but there was also a feeling that it kind-of made sense. Not a feeling I often get from books, I must say.
I hope this sufficiently conveys why I am not quite sure what I think now, whilst also not giving too much away. I am currently verging on thinking that Flynn is a storytelling genius.