Sometimes I jump on bandwagons – never for sports teams, but occasionally for books. Last week I decided to jump on the Gone Girl bandwagon. This cunning thriller has been the talk of the summer at my library and has been mentioned on almost every ‘Best Books of Summer’ list I’ve seen. There are still over 100 holds on it in my library system and more requests being made by the hour. I really wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

Gone Girl starts out as a traditional missing woman novel. Amy disappears one morning from her Missouri home and all clues lead to her husband, Nick, as being the prime suspect. The story moves back and forth between Nick’s account of the investigation and Amy’s past journal entries. The reader quickly realizes that we’re dealing with two unreliable narrators and the first half of the book is a dizzying journey through the heads of this couple with many twists and turns driving the plot along a compelling, but unknown, road.

The second half of the novel has a much different feel because we find out a startling fact about Amy that changes the entire landscape of the novel and very cleverly switches the feel of the book from a murder investigation to an examination of marriage. All of the big (and little) issues that can infect a marriage are intensified here and completely transformed into psychosis. It is well-done and fascinatingly so.

However, I didn’t really like this novel. I was left with a sense of vague disappointment that I feel after reading most contemporary thrillers. I think this is a matter of personal taste rather than anything wrong with the quality of the book. I definitely recognize the excellence of the plot and writing, but I don’t like the overuse of profanity, the crudity or the general sense of modern malaise. Yes, I am old-fashioned and somewhat of a prude and feel more comfortable in the world of Barbara Pym than in the world of Gillian Flynn.

If you are a fan of thrillers I would recommend this, though. It is a very good suspense novel and obviously appeals to a lot of people. It has a unique plot and is undeniably absorbing. It just wasn’t for me.

I’d like to know – how do you feel about profanity in novels?

 

6 Comments

  1. I’ve also seen reviews (generally positive) both in print and on the blogs, and I’ve been mildly curious, but not enough to actually look for the book.

    With profanity, it depends I guess on the book or the context, but there are some words that I just don’t want to see in print. Certain derogatory terms for women and ethnic slurs pretty much guarantee that I’ll drop the book.

    • I agree it does depend on context, but I just don’t like profanity x 100. And this book does contain pretty strong derogatory terms for women which really drove me nuts. I liked the book, but the language ruined it for me – so sad!

  2. I probably won’t read this, just because I have so many books to get through.

    Profanity – I agree with Lisa but some book settings mean that a lack of profanity would render the whole thing unrealistic. In certain ‘rough’ places in Scotland the ‘f’ word is so overused that it has ceased to be offensive. Some men actually say things like: ‘och f—, will you look at that’ in a a very soft, loving way, whilst admiring a baby or something. Honestly!

    • I know this is true for some communities because I’ve heard it myself in the library. At first I’m offended, but then I realize that it is part of their everyday speech and is not meant to be inappropriate. It makes me uncomfortable, but I really can’t judge. And I do use salty language myself from time to time- I like to keep it to a minimum, though, and I prefer that in books too.

  3. You and I are very much alike when it comes to books. I usually prefer Barbara Pym’s books over most contemporary novels. But many people are talking about this book. I am glad to get your appraisal which I trust. Thank you!

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