With a promotional sticker on the front cover with a solid recommendation from a literary giant like Stephen King, you really can’t go wrong! This is a quirky little tale, not only about killing children in a small town like Wind Gap, but also about survival through childhood. Examining along the way the obstacles that are thrown at people during their years of development and how we can sometimes hide the past when it is too painful. Flynn’s first novel is all about children, puberty and growing pains, physical and mental. Camille’s own pain, which is reflected in the title, is startlingly portrayed throughout the book yet it isn’t sensationalised and becomes an integral part of the novel. It is a part of Camille, and the reader feels that without her condition, she wouldn’t be whole (this will all make sense when you turn the pages, readers, trust me…).
I am not sure if the author actually comes from a town like Wind Gap, but she certainly populates this town with its fair share of grotesques. The women of Wind Gap get a very raw deal. Here are women who have had cosmetic surgery (some of it not quite so successful); rich, bored, housewives with errant husbands, grown up children and lots of time on their hands. They also have many petty squabbles amongst the womenfolk and the importance of class/social standing - which should have died out with the Victorians - is by all accounts alive and well in Wind Gap.
This is a fable for the 21st Century. The writing is top class, although I did feel the author slightly lose her way about half way through the novel. However, she bounces back and manages to pull out, perhaps, not a surprising denouement, but certainly a most satisfactory one. However, the plotting is secondary to the description of Camille’s feelings about herself, Wind Gap and, most of all, her dysfunctional family. Certainly Camille’s mother could be classed as a monster, and whether she is misguided or not is left to the reader to decide…
Sharp Objects is a dazzling and strong first novel and I am sure Gillian Flynn will be a name to watch out for in years to come.