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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl book cover

Marriage can be a real killer.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?


The information below may contain spoilers.   Book page numbers are from the hardcover edition.

Book Club Party Ideas for Gone Girl

Amy writes personality quizzes for a living and sends Nick on a treasure hunt for their anniversaries.  Make quiz or treasure hunt invitations or include these activities during your book club.    Click the following link for a free quiz template:

Nick’s case become a little more complicated when Amy’s diary is found.  The diary is described as a biblically thick leather-covered binder, charred all along the edges (page 338).   I used a more flammable binder that I had around the house and a long handled lighter to get the charred effect.   Also included in the decorations are police tape (actually bachelorette tape, the message of which seemed more fitting), a ball and chain and a police car.  Amy liked to keep bodily fluids for future use so I included a little jar.  For added effect, overturn an ottoman.

police car, red jelly beans, charred diary, jar, ball and chain

Every time a guest turns their “handsome face into an undertaker’s mask” or if they just start to stare off into the distance, throw red jelly beans at them as the person prepping Nick for his interview did.

For their 5th wedding anniversary, which is wood, Amy gives Nick ominous Punch and Judy dolls (page 231).  Not sure you would want to purchase one of these creepy dolls (they are available on ebay); you can decorate with a Punch and Judy wall decal instead.

Set up a bar scene by lining up your liquor bottles against a mirrored backdrop and serving some bar snacks.  For a destination book club, host your gathering at a bar.

liquor, bar food

Book Club Menu for Gone Girl

“Amy peered at the crepe sizzling in the pan and licked something off her wrist.  She looked triumphant, wifely.  If I took her in my arms, she would smell like berries and powdered sugar.” (page 7).

Although this quote about the crepes sounds like a nice memory, here is the quote that precedes it:  “There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.”   But still, I can never pass up the chance to make crepes.  These mixed berry crepes are filled with a cream cheese spread, lemon zest and a mix of strawberries and blueberries.  Click here for the recipe.

strawberries, blueberries, powdered sugar


More recipe ideas from Gone Girl (page numbers are from the hardcover edition):

  • “The clues are all about us, about the past year together:  Whenever my sweet hubby gets a cold, It is this dish that will soon be sold.  Answer:  the tom yum soup from Thai Town on President Street” (page 40).
  • “I remember once declining cherry pie at dinner, and Rand cocked his head and said, ‘Ahh! Iconoclast.  Disdains the easy, symbolic patriotism.’  And when I tried to laugh it off and said, well, I didn’t like cherry cobbler either, Marybeth touched Rand’s arm: ‘Because of the divorce.  All those comfort foods, the desserts a family eats together, those are just bad memories for Nick.’ It was silly but incredibly sweet, these people spending so much energy trying to figure me out.  The answer:  I don’t like cherries” (page 62).
  • “Manchego cheese and chocolate truffles and a bottle of cold Sancerre and, with a wry eyebrow, he even produces the chili-cheese Fritos I got hooked on when I was Ozark Amy” (page 348).
  • “So he brings me lovely green star fruit and spiky artichokes and spiny crab, anything that takes elaborate preparation and yields little in return” (page 361).
  • “Now, you are lucky, because I make a mean chicken Frito pie” (page 95).
  • “I’d come to believe there was no food more depressing than Danish, a pastry that seemed stale upon arrival” (page 101).
  • “We deliver the soda pops, me smiling and laughing even harder, a vision of grace and good cheer, asking everyone if I can get them anything else, complimenting women on ambrosia salads and crab dips and pickle slices wrapped in cream cheese wrapped in salami” (page 121).
  • “I’d been trying to be more careful about the booze, but it felt so good:  the tang of a Scotch, a dark room with the blinding sun right outside” (page 275).


Book Club Resources for Gone Girl

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads:  3.96 stars (232,688 ratings)
Amazon:  3.7 stars (10,381 ratings)
LibraryThing:  3.93 stars (399 ratings)

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Book Club Discussion Questions for Gone Girl

Contains spoilers!

1. Do you like Nick or Amy? Did you find yourself picking a side? Do you think the author intends for us to like them? Why or why not?

2. Does the author intend for us to think of Nick or Amy as the stronger writer? Do you perceive one or the other as a stronger writer, based on their narration/journal entries? Why?

3. Do you think Amy and Nick both believe in their marriage at the outset?

4. Nick, ever conscious of the way he is being perceived, reflects on the images that people choose to portray in the world—constructed, sometimes plagiarized roles that we present as our personalities. Discuss the ways in which the characters—and their opinions of each other—are influenced by our culture’s avid consumption of TV shows, movies, and websites, and our need to fit each other into these roles.

5. Discuss Amy’s false diary, both as a narrative strategy by the author and as a device used by the character. How does the author use it to best effect? How does Amy use it?

6. What do you make of Nick’s seeming paranoia on the day of his fifth anniversary, when he wakes with a start and reports feeling, You have been seen?

7. As experienced consumers of true crime and tragedy, modern “audiences” tend to expect each crime to fit a specific mold: a story, a villain, a heroine. How does this phenomenon influence the way we judge news stories? Does it have an impact on the criminal justice system? Consider the example of the North Carthage police, and also Tanner Bolt’s ongoing advice to Nick.

8. What is Go’s role in the book? Why do you think the author wrote her as Nick’s twin? Is she a likable character?

9. Discuss Amy’s description of the enduring myth of the “cool girl”—and her conviction that a male counterpart (seemingly flawless to women) does not exist. Do you agree? Why does she assume the role if she seems to despise it? What benefit do you think she derives from the act?

10. Is there some truth to Amy’s description of the “dancing monkeys”—her friends’ hapless partners who are forced to make sacrifices and perform “sweet” gestures to prove their love? How is this a counterpoint to the “cool girl”?

11. What do you think of Marybeth and Rand Elliott? Is the image they present sincere? What do you think they believe about Amy?

12. How does the book deal with the divide between perception and reality, or between public image and private lives? Which characters are most skillful at navigating this divide, and how?

13. How does the book capture the feel of the recession—the ending of jobs and contraction of whole industries; economic and geographical shifts; real estate losses and abandoned communities. Are some of Nick and Amy’s struggles emblematic of the time period? Are there any parts of the story that feel unique to this time period?

14. While in hiding, Amy begins to explore what the “real” Amy likes and dislikes. Do you think this is a true exploration of her feelings, or is she acting out yet another role? In these passages, what does she mean when she refers to herself as “I” in quotes?

15. What do you think of Amy’s quizzes—and “correct” answers—that appear throughout the book? As a consistent thread between her Amazing Amy childhood and her adult career, what does her quiz-writing style reveal about Amy’s true personality and her understanding of the world?

16. Do Nick and Amy have friends? Consider Nick’s assurance that Noelle was deluded in her claims of friendship with Amy, and also the friends described in Amy’s journal. How “real” are these friendships? What do you think friendship means to each of them?

17. What was the relationship between Amy and Nick’s father? Do you think the reader is meant to imagine conversations between the two of them? Why does Nick’s father come to Nick and Amy’s home?

18. Amy publicly denounces the local police and criticizes their investigation. Do you think they did a good job of investigating her disappearance? Were there real missteps, or was their failing due to Amy’s machinations?

19. Do you believe Amy truly would have committed suicide? Why does she return?

20. Were you satisfied with the book’s ending? What do you think the future holds for Nick, Amy, and their baby boy?

The Author

 Gillian Flynn Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.  Adapted from

Other Works by Gillian Flynn

Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for Gone Girl? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about gone girl.

    Comment by on June 12, 2013 at 8:05 am

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