Gone Girl Vs The One Hundred Year Old Man who Climed out the Window and Disappeared

September 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Middle Weight Fiction | 9 Comments

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Having read both these novels on a recent holiday I was moved to review these stories against each other because when compared one shows the other in a poor superficial light and the other, not only in comparison, is a truly beautiful and well crafted literary story.

Overwhelming consensus currently says ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn is the literary thriller of the year which I disagree with with gusto! Gone Girl is neither literary nor thrilling. The story is based upon a married couple in the thirties who are beautiful, successful and in love. Their world is then rocked by the loss of both their jobs and a radial move from New York City into the countryside where husband Nick cares for his terminally ill mother while attempting to start a new business. When his wife the beautiful Amy disappears Nick is judged as not reacting appropriately and for not being sufficiently upset and therefore catapulted into the role of lead suspect.  What follows is a convoluted and complex story that squirms and turns and becomes grandiose,complicated, stretched thin, malicious and requires a huge amount of suspended disbelief from the reader.

Because Gillian Flynn can logistically explain all the far-fetched components she throws into her novel this does not make it clever. There is good tension and malice in the story as it progresses and a couple of interesting characters, namely Nick and his sister Go, but it is dissatisfying that the plot is catastrophically unconvincing. This novel seems to want to say that we can never really know anyone no matter how close we get. But there literally are thousand of other graceful and evocative expositions of this idea that didn’t feel the need to allude to trashy violence or grandiose plot turns. We can see this idea in some of Jonathan Franzen and Ian McEwan’s works and they understand how to gently awaken this idea in their readers.

one hunded year old manWhen compared again ‘The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’, ‘Gone Girl’  cannot stand up. Jonas Jonasson has told a touching and comic tale of a hundred year old Allen Karlsson who escapes from his nursing home shortly before his hundreth birthday party is due to begin. Going on the run he lets events unfold as they may and engages with all walks of human life and all kinds of adventures allowing his instincts to be his guide; ‘The hundred-year old man had never let himself be irritated by people, even when there was good reason to be, and he was not annoyed by the uncouth manner of this youth. But he couldn’t warm to him either, and that probably played some part in what happened next.’

The story at regular intervals also tells the life story of Allen Karlsson in tandem with the adventures of his hundredth year which reveal Allen’s intrinsic presence at some of the twentieth centuries key moments. Moving, funny, human and interesting this novel delivers all which readers looks for. It promotes the spirit of good literature and storytelling and unlike Gone Girl its artistic merit can support its inclusion of darker scenes.

The books in Haiku; Gone out the window, but the window is open, Jonassons breeze blows.

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9 Comments »

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  1. Brilliant comparative review. Really clever and spot on!

  2. Great review. Gone Girl seems to have been praised to the sky lately, and it’s good to see a proper critique of it when compared and contrasted with a stronger literary work.

    • I agree with Henry, the comparison and contrasting review has encouraged me to be try and now to really enjoy The Hundred Year Old Man. Didn’t think I would like it so much, but it is, as Sarah’s books states, just so humorous and human that I find it addictive and almost philosophical. Thank you Sarah.

  3. I have now read both books and it is very interesting to go back to Sarah’s Books and re read the review of these two tales of the unlikely. Comparing them opens a wider vista to the reader. Well done Sarah! Poppy 🙂

    • Thanks Paula! How did you enjoy the books?

      • I enjoyed both books, but mainly got involved with Gone Girl as a light (suspend disbelief) page turner, whereas The Hundred Year Old Man was in a different and much higher category altogether, and is well worth recommending. Poppy 🙂

  4. I never thought that these two books could be compared, but you have done it in such a great way. I love this post!

    • This was such an insightful and unusual book review and the movie proved to me how on-the-money Sarah can be. Gone Girl movie went from bad to worse…whereas I’d think a movie of The Hundred Year Old Man would be amazing. Go Sarah!


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