By: Margaret Mitchell
I should start by saying I had no intention of reading this book. Nope, I was seriously thinking of reading the sequel, Scarlett. I didn't think I needed to read it. I saw the movie in junior high and thought I knew the story from that. I stress the words: I thought. It was a last minute change of mind made in a used bookstore when I found a copy of Gone With The Wind for $1.00. I'll be honest in saying the book's length also was deterring factor. Over 1,000 pages is a long book and it would take me forever to read it. I am so glad I changed my mind because every page was well worth it.
It has taken me a few days to write this commentary. How do you describe this book? I've heard it referred to the greatest love story of all time. I've heard it called a walk down the Civil War lane. Truthfully, I'm having a hard time pinning down a quick way of describing this book. It was everything I had ever heard it described as, plus more. I'll think I'll let the author of this masterpiece speak for herself when she said she wrote about survival being the theme to the book.
Scarlett O'Hara is a spoiled, snobby, arrogant Southern Belle. The only thing she concerns herself with are boys- and if they happen to be courting someone else at the time she decides she wants them, oh well. However, the one boy she loves most, Ashley Wilkes, is the one she can't have. When his engagement to Melanie is announced at a BBQ, a rejected and bitter Scarlett does what any sound woman would do: she marries another boy before he's shipped off to war out of spite. The Civil War begins, her new husband dies, and she becomes a widow and expectant mother.
As the War unleashes it's worst, Scarlett transforms from the pampered girl to a gutsy woman who does whatever needs to be done to survive. From a daring, life-threatening escape out of Atlanta with her son and seriously ill/pregnant Melanie to murdering a Yankee. From losing her beloved Mother to marrying her sister's beau to prevent losing Tara, there becomes no end to what Scarlett won't do and the journey is an incredible read that keeps you going back to see what else will she conquer over.
Life does not slow down or get easier once the War ends. Scarlett is front and center for the Reconstruction. Post Civil War life finds her a mother and widow, both for the second time. She bucks tradition and goes into business for herself. A hasty marriage to the scoundrel, Rhett, doesn't improve things for her. But she makes no apologies for her behavior or decisions and never looks back. Scarlett is driven by the fear of everything she has now being taken from her again. She fears being hungry and does what she needs to in order to prevent it from happening.
Through her journey she has the kind hearted Melanie in her corner always defending her and coming to her defense. Her object of desire, Ashley, struggles to adjust to his new life. Rhett is always in the background helping her in many endeavors. From their first meeting you love the interaction between these two characters. When Scarlett tells him he is no gentleman, he doesn't miss a beat in responding with "... and you are no lady." It was perfect! It was great. They match each other perfectly and it's heartbreaking to see what they do to each other once they finally do get together.
It may have taken me a month to read the book, but it was well worth it. Margaret Mitchell made me feel like I was there with Scarlett and company through it all. I got an education in the Civil War that no history class gave. I would whole heatedly recommend Gone With The Wind to any historical fiction fan. The author does an incredible job of combining history and engrossing storyline. I was swept up from the first page to the last. As I read this epic story I knew I was reading an amazing, timeless book that would stay with me forever.