Book Review: Gone With The Wind

It is April 1861 and in the South trouble is brewing.

Gone_with_the_Wind_coverMargaret Mitchell only wrote one book in her lifetime, but her success was renowned. Her book, Gone With the Wind, became a hit right away and today is still considered a bestseller.  As of this year, Gone With the Wind has topped the charts as the second favorite book of American readers.

In the story, Scarlett O’Hara, a spoiled 16 year old girl lives on a plantation, Tara, in the South with her family. She is not considered a beauty, but the men are struck by her charm and all but flock to her side. This is how the readers find her at a barbecue at the Twelve Oaks Plantation owned by the Wilkes.

Scarlett is in love with Ashley Wilkes and she becomes heart-stricken when she learns of his engagement to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton. After confronting him, Scarlett loses her temper at his refusal to marry her instead and marks his face with her hand.

This is where she meets Rhett Butler, a reputable rogue who applauds her unladylike manners. Scarlett, infuriated and humiliated, joins the rest just to learn that war has been declared and the men are going to enlist.  In a fit of rage and revenge, she accepts a marriage proposal from Melanie’s brother, Charles Hamilton, who sadly dies only months later from measles. Widowed and with a baby, Scarlett is forced to wear black for an entire year, avoiding all conversation with young men.

As the war continues, Scarlett moves to Atlanta to live with her Aunt to help take care of Melanie as Ashley has enlisted. Scarlett also helps in the war effort with hospital work and sewing for the Confederate army. Scarlett deals with a city burning around her, traveling with a very much pregnant Melanie, and another two marriage proposals. The troubles at Tara have only begun.

I was not awfully fond of this story when I first watched the movie as a kid. To me it was boring and long. Being older and, hopefully wiser, I finally read the book. The bulk of the book was intimidating, but I quickly became enthralled in the story. After the hours and quite possible days of ready, I discovered a few things.

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First off, Scarlett O’Hara is not your usual heroine. She is very easy to hate. She’s temperamental, and seems to only think about herself.  But, there are times when you feel sorry for her, even though she might have been the person to get herself into a certain predicament.  Secondly, the story wasn’t as boring as I had first imagined.

The book is actually quite amazing with all the different situations going on throughout the story. Mitchell touches on the controversial subject of slavery with her use of racial epithet and ethnic slurs. Her writing is colorful and despite the length of the book, I never got bored. Even though I had my doubts as to whether I actually like Scarlett at all, I couldn’t help but cheer her on.  And when the end came, my heart was greatly saddened at her life. Somehow, I felt satisfied even as I cried.

So, this might not be a book for everyone, but I can say that it’s great for long trips and wonderful for those who love history. Mitchell created a realistic world where the characters seem more than fiction, and the emotional ride is always scintillating.

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