Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn (2006)
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Read me if…
- You enjoyed Flynn’s ‘Gone Girl’
- You’re looking for a psychological puzzle to untangle
- Aren’t affected by self-harm or graphic description (important – please don’t tackle this novel if you’re going through any kind of similar struggle. If needed, please find the number to Befrienders Worldwide here.)
Sometimes I think illness sits inside every woman, waiting for the right moment to bloom. I have known so many sick women all my life. Women with chronic pain, with ever-gestating diseases. Women with conditions… Women get consumed.
Another great poolside read, it’s not particularly challenging but it’s stimulating enough to keep the pages turning. If you were a fan of Gone Girl then this is definitely in a similar vein (don’t think about veins, don’t think about veins). It’s obsessed with female damage to the self, both psychologically and physically.
The novel was recently made into an American mini-series. I’m yet to watch this so the review is purely based on the book.
Flynn is the master of female protagonists with twisted and tragic back-stories. She captures the darkness, tiptoeing along a fine line between everything held together and ultimate mental breakdown. While you may not identify with every character trait there are glimpses of every female (ever) in her portrayal of women. She’s fundamentally flawed and that’s what makes the main character of Sharp Objects such a relatable protagonist.
Camille Preaker is a young journalist trying to build her life in Chicago after dealing with family tragedy and mental illness. She’s assigned a story in her home town of Wind Gap Missouri, a homicide and a missing person – both young girls. While there she has to confront her damaged and damaging family while trying to investigate the crimes racking the town. It all gets too close for comfort as the novel crescendoes into an overwhelming nightmare of family control, rejection and breakdown.
Many book reviewers have hailed Flynn for ‘allowing women to be bad’. As feminism takes a stronghold of society today, we don’t just have the twisted minds of scary men. We have powerful (and slightly disturbing) women and the responses are great. Hail to the damaged and flawed, so long nurturing mother figure.
The characters of this novel get under your skin and it’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole. Best to do that on a sunny beach or in a nice cosy resort so you can come back to the sunshine!
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