Review: Gone with the Wind

April 17, 2010 Whitney Review 18 Comments

Review: Gone with the WindGone with the Wind
Author Margaret Mitchell
Publisher Scribner
Publication Date January 10, 2007
Source: Bought

Margaret Mitchell's epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time.

Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as Gone With the Wind does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives.

In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.

The title or “catch phrase” really says it all, “A Civilization Gone with the Wind”.  Or, Scarlett O’Hara is the epitome of a young southern girl, pretty, vivacious and naive to the world around her.  All that changes when the civil war begins throwing away all that she once held dear.

Katie Scarlett O’Hara, the belle of Clayton County love and hated by its residence.  She is able to snare all the beaux away from their respected girlfriends holding their hearts  captured.  All except the one she cares most about, Ashley Wilkes from Twelve Oaks plantation (and the Wilkes always marry their cousins).  After a failed attempt to win his heart (and exposing herself to their guest Rhett Butler) at the Wilkes’s home she marries Melanie’s brother Charles In an effort to make Ashley jealous after marrying his cousin Melanie Hamilton. This bond makes Melanie, the woman standing in Scarlett’s way her “sister”.  Soon, after each marrying Charles and Ashley go off to war and after only a few short weeks of marital bliss Scarlett is made a widow after Charles dies soon after enlisting.  Falling into fake mourning and depression for looking horrible in black, Scarlett and her son Wade Hampton leave for Atlanta to stay with her Aunt Pitty Pat and Melanie, where she will be “sitting there just like a spider” waiting for Ashley to return home.

I shall quickly sum  up Scarlett’s stay in Atlanta.  Scarlett, being the vicious young girl she is struggles to maintain her fake mourning, and comes out scandalously after being bid on to dance a reel with Rhett Butler. She spends most of her time working towards the cause, whether it be at the hospital or organizing a fundraiser, it is what Scarlett eats, sleeps and breathes.

Ashley does return on leave for Christmas and is showered with love from the two women who are in love with him, but upon his departure asks Scarlett to take care of Melanie while he is away.  She agrees reluctantly and even more so after learning that Melly is carrying his baby.

The Yankees capture Atlanta, with Melanie very inconveniently going into labor that day.  Doctor Meade is swamped by caring for soldiers and so Scarlett and the incompetent darkie Prissy, who knows nothing about birthing babies are left to their own resources.  After the baby’s birth Scarlett tracks down Rhett who takes her halfway home to Tara in a stolen mule and cart.

Tara is not the haven that she left so long ago and has been striped of its beauty and grander by the wretched Yankees.  After facing deprivation  promises that she will never go hungry again, committing murder, theft and an attempt to sell herself.  After the war has ended with the confederates surrender Ashley comes home, beaten and unable to cope with this change of situation.  Scarlett begins to throw herself at Ashley once again but due to his honor refuses to proceed further. To make matters worse, the taxes on Tara have been raised and goes back to Atlanta in an attempt to collect the money in a very creative way,  she failed at doing this but, she conveniently runs into Frank Kennedy who has made quite a bit of money from starting a general store.  Scarlett has a light-bulb moment and after a whirlwind courtship ensnared Frank’s hand in matrimony and wallah, Tara is safe from the bill collectors.

Personally, I’ve always found Scarlett’s marriage to Frank to be simply filler between her hardships at Tara and her marriage to Rhett.  But although she and Rhett are so alike Ashley still manages to drive a wedge in their relationship.

Soon after Frank’s death which was caused by Scarlett’s stubbornness and never-ending thought of obtaining another dollar, practically turns around after his funeral and becomes Mrs. Rhett Butler.  I will stop here as I don’t want to give too much away (I hope this wasn’t one huge spoiler) and say that the ending has much hardship and reflection.

I’m not sure if you could tell   but I absolutely love this book and has remained one of my favorite novels since I first read it at age 13.  This is a story unlikely to be forgotten.

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18 responses to “Review: Gone with the Wind

  1. I agree – I read this last year before I started my blog and love love loved it. It is amazing, it is epic, it is romantic, it is horrible – it is a wonderfully full book

  2. Finally, I have been waiting for a post on this book on your blog for a long time now! It is an amazing book isn't it? An experience in itself! Great review! Scarlett is someone we all will love to hate but just cannot help liking at some point 🙂

  3. I'm possibly one of the very few book-lovers in this planet to have not read this book, but after reading this post, I promise I'll read the book soon!

  4. LindyLouMac

    One would never have guessed you loved it so much. I enjoyed your review a reminder of what a great story it is, I last read this, dare I say 27 years ago!!!

  5. 1) congrats on finishing it (again)
    2) it is my aunt's favorite book as well. She could not believe that I had not read and/or seen the movie in my early 20's (almost 20 years ago). She quickly made sure I did both.
    3) It is an epic tale and one I enjoy in book form more so than the movie edition.

    I am so glad you got to be delighted all over again 🙂

  6. It is an amazing read, and I'm always glad to see another book lover enjoy it so much! I think I first read this book when I was about 15 yrs. old, and my daughter is now fourteen….looks like it's about time to suggest that she read it so we can discuss it together! (I just loved Rhett.)

  7. Becky– "It is amazing, it is epic, it is romantic, it is horrible – it is a wonderfully full book" I could have just written that and summed it up perfectly.

    Vaishnavi– It is amazing, and your right readers must have a love/hate relationship with Scarlett.

    Kals– I hope you keep that promise GWTW is fantastic!

    LindyLouMac– Really? I thought it was written as plain as the nose on my face. But Thank you, I'm better at a poker face than I thought.

    Felicia S–
    1) Thank you
    2) I love your aunt, for remedying your lack of GWTW
    3)Yes, I agree and I always look forward to being delighted.

    bookquoter– This does have some fantastic lines "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" I find myself quoting from it randomly.

    I really could have written more as I barely touched the Ashley/Melanie/Scarlett love triangle, but it was getting late. Maybe for another post…

  8. Joanne– I hope your daughter enjoys Gone with the Wind, it can be quite addicting. Also, I think you were stating the obvious with "I just loved Rhett" it's difficult not to fall in love with that blockade runner.

  9. Kim

    I haven't, but will, read this book! How does it compare to the mini-series? (if that isn't a Duh-question)

    Stop by my blog for an award — if you want to — no pressure 🙂

  10. I've only read this book once (in 1997! so it's been a while) but I loved it. I distinctly remember admiring Scarlett's spunky audacity and wondering, on more than one occasion, what will she do next??

  11. Kim –Mini-series? Maybe you're thinking of Scarlett, the continuation of Gone with the Wind. I haven't or read/seen that, it just seems wrong, GWTW ended so perfectly. As for the Gone with the Wind movie, it is almost as good as the book, it's really hard to beat the novel. I still love the movie, it stays very true to the book but is much more melodramatic due to the acting, but that just adds to the entertainment value.

    Kathy– I do admire Scarlett, but also have a great dislike at the same time, as she's always in it for her, and her alone. I concur, even after rereading I always wonder what she'll do next.

  12. I am ashamed to admit that I have never read this great classic. I am adding it to my TBR pile now because I simply loved the movie and I am sure the book is better. Thanks for your review and for stopping by my blog:)

  13. i was a really late reader–i mean a seriously late reader. i could not read until third grade. for grades k-3 i just memorized everything. gone with the wind was the first full length book i read and i absolutely think it lead to a lifetime of loving to read. i re read it every few years and it only gets better! your review is brilliant, specific but painted with a wonderfully wide brush–thank you!

  14. Bobbie– It's nothing to be ashamed of, I'm surprised how many people haven't read it. Besides, there's no time like the present.

    Priya– I'm very impressed you read Gone with the Wind as your first full length adult book; especially since you had difficulty reading at a young age. I hope I wasn't too specific so I ruined it for "newbies" but I tend to get a little carried away when talking about GWTW.

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