Marriage. That’s what this book is about. Long term relationships between a husband and a wife. Nick Dunne and Amy Elliot are a couple in Missouri and Amy is missing. Nick is the prime suspect. Shit has finally hit the fans on a stale five year old marriage and no one has a single clue about what is going on.
Both Nick and Amy are complete opposites of each other. Nick is a carefree fellow who just wants the wife and by extension himself, to be happy while Amy is a calculating bitch who’s brain never stops thinking.
The book portrays the psyche of married couples who have to spend their remaining lives together; a scary prospect for some people. During this period you find out unadvertised flaws ( and features) which may be a deal-breaker. Some revelations can often be stressful for the people involved and can result in unpredictable and erratic behaviour. Over time, people may develop different negative coping mechanisms which can have disastrous results if not remedied in time.
This book throws some light on what’s going on in the minds of the unemployed writer couple that is Nick and Amy. It uses different kinds of narrative techniques to put forth the story and aid in its suspense building. For the entire first part Amy’s side is only chronicled through her diary which later turns out to be a ruse. Nick on the other hand is not sure what exactly has happened to his wife and is foolishly ambling into the trap laid by her.
An interesting pattern that the book maintains is the balance of emotions between Nick and Amy. In the beginning, Amy is plotting revenge against Nick while he is innocently looking up leads of her kidnapping. Once the cat’s out of the bag, Nick turns on Amy and vows to get her arrested. While she is slowly softening towards him partly due to his apologetic nature in public and partly due to her experiences in the real world on her own. It shows the stark incompatibility that they both have been trying to cope with, while still being so used to each other.
Marriage, as mentioned earlier is the central theme of this book. Different kinds of couples are portrayed throughout the book:
- Amy & Nick: The contradictory and messed up couple that wants to kill each other.
- Rand & Marybeth: socialite parents of Amy, who’ve done everything right and want to put up a good face. Also the creators of the fictionalized version of Amy: Amazing Amy
- Maureen and Bill: Nick and Margo’s separated parents who are the cause of different behavioural issues with their children.
- Tanner & Betsy Bolt: The power couple where both are lawyers specifically dealing with high profile marital disputes. Both are comfortable with each other and know how to work well together.
- Nick & Andie: Nick and his mistress is the ‘fun’ life that Nick is vying for as compared to his marriage. It is also equally shallow as he is ready to leave it with only a trickle of hesitation.
The book also does an excellent job of depicting Amy’s psycopathic tendencies. Once married and shifted away from her busy New York life, she has no other person to look to other than her husband Nick. Exhibiting the classical symptoms, she is overly obssessed with Nick, no other purpose than making sure he stays under her control, excessive and compulsive planning and thinking of all possible scenarios. Like most top tier psychos, she gets what she wants and is never caught in the end.
Media representation is a very important plot point as it is instrumental in swaying the public opinion of the case. TV vans are constantly camped out in front of Nick’s house and ready to relay the latest news to the country’s audience. The public opinion is a constant concern due to its impact on Nick’s sentence in the possible incarceration. The story also shows social media can be used to one’s benefit by spreading imperfect news to change public perception.
This is one story that has potential for an interesting sequel.