Friday, January 17, 2014

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell

Published 1963

First Sentence
"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
Publisher's Description:

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell's epic love story is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and its people forever changed. At the heart of all this chaos is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett 'O' Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

Dear Reader,

What an epic story! Even though this took me quite some time to finish due to the incredible length, I still enjoyed every moment of it. This story is so well known, I'm not sure if I have to write a blurb about it, but I'll try to do it justice. The setting of "Gone with the Wind" ranges from a plantation in the countryside of Georgia to the city of Atlanta. Scarlett O'Hara is the main character and the story is told from her perspective, mostly. The Author does a little back and forth to get some of the other views of the different characters but Mitchell mostly sticks with Scarlett. This is a true coming of age story, a little unique since it's set during the Civil War and is told from the eyes of a spoiled girl who grows up on a plantation in Georgia. We follow her from age sixteen to twenty-eight during the time span of 1861 until 1873. For those of you who know your Civil War history, you'll see how those few years would completely change the life of a girl brought up in the privileged South. The story takes you from riches, to war, to freedom, to poor, to struggle, to regained riches, to loss, to death, to love and SO much more.

Some would believe that this is a historical romance, even I was mislead by the common knowledge just the title, "Gone with the Wind" carries, however this is far from the full truth. I would put this under historical fiction, mainly because it's so much more than a love story. Yes, Scarlett is shallow and can only think about herself and boys/men, but this wouldn't be a coming of age story without a little hardship. Scarlett lives through the hardest times in the South, the ones that made all the wealthy plantation owners destitute. She struggled and survived, coming out on the other side stronger. Sadly, she doesn't learn enough lessons to change her selfishness until it's too late, making this more of a tragedy. Scarlett is so intolerably selfish, it made me want to slap her silly (satisfyingly, Rhett does this enough to placate me).

So what about the love story? It's a good one, mostly because of how tragic it truly is. This is not some warm fuzzy feeling book with a happy ending, be prepared to cry. The one fact that I got out of this tragic love story is that you can't change someone, no matter how hard you try. Scarlett never apologizes for her inadequacy and I believe this is why I started to feel a bit of sympathy for her. In a world where the proper way of being a "lady" is more important than life itself, one can't blame Scarlett for rebelling. Take this for example; back then you couldn't speak of being pregnant, nor go out of the house while with child because it was deemed inappropriate. Can you imagine if this was something that didn't change with the times? Outrageous. The Civil War broke many people down and caused some of these absurd traditions to break free. Nobody cared that much of what was proper, when you have a dying civilization surrounding you. Okay, so maybe it didn't change THAT drastically and Scarlett is a perfect example of a girl who breaks free but gets the cold shoulder from all her "supposed" family friends. Don't get me wrong, she does some dastardly things that warrant the cold shoulder, but she also gives the reader some hope for the female race. I mean we know how it all turns out, and it might not have changed so drastically if it weren't for woman like Scarlett.

The Civil War is something that hits home, being an American. It was hard reading about things from a different perspective because you didn't know what the truth truly was. I don't remember hearing much about the hardships the South faced during and after the war, coming from a Northern school system. I wonder if that would have been different if I had grown up in the South. I'm sure the same can be said vice versa. I'm glad to have these different perspectives to ponder on, I might never know the full truth but I can be rest assured that we've come together in the right direction. This is such a hard topic because we know what is "RIGHT" and "WRONG" with slavery, but in order to get America changed to "RIGHT", we had to destroy a civilization, which is what the Southern culture was essentially. I think one of my favorite lines in the book was spoken by the dashing Rhett Butler, "I told you once before that there were two times for making big money, one in the up-building of a country and the other in its destruction. Slow money on the up-building, fast money in the crack-up. Remember my words. Perhaps they may be of use to you some day." This quote really is quite insightful and surprisingly, I couldn't find it anywhere on the internet (not even in the six pages of quotes from this book on Goodreads... until I added it). Thankfully, I highlight when I read so I could look back and find it because I think it's worth sharing and sums up a huge theme of this book, money.

I think I've gone rambling on enough and this book elicits some very interesting and numerous topics of conversation. I think it would be a great book club book, actually. I want to leave you with my thoughts on the movie made from this novel. IF you've only seen the movie, I find it imperative for you to pick up this book immediately. I know... the movie was good, but the book is fantastic and gives you so much depth the movie couldn't bring to it. I'll leave you with this, "Fiddle de dee, tomorrow is another day".

Happy Reading,

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1 comment:

  1. Great review of this!! Says a lot of what I would have were I to write one. Thanks for putting your thoughts down in words so eloquently!


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