Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Back when I was a snotty teenager, my mother loaned me her copy of Gone with the Wind, declaring that it was one of her favorite books of all time. I, of course being a brat, pushed the recommendation aside and forgot all about it. Fast forward to about 3 weeks ago when I decided to give Mitchell's novel a chance after all. All I can say is what a difference a few years makes!
Set in Georgia before, during, and after the Civil War, Gone with the Wind is an epic of mammoth proportions depicting the evolution of its heroine (or villian, depending on how you look at it), Scarlett O'Hara. As the Southern Confederates bravely fight the Civil War, Scarlett and a cast of dear characters (including Melanie Wilkes, the wife of the man Scarlett is desparetely in love with and Mammy, the black nanny that raised both Scarlett and her mother from infancy) must cope with a complete change in lifestyle, battling hunger, violence, fear and even the threat of death.
Talk about a multi-dimensional character - Scarlett is fascinating - you simultaneously want to slap her for being such a bitch or commend her for her shrewdness. Though the bulk of the novel deals with Scarlett's longing for Ashley Wilkes, it's the scenes with her and Rhett Butler that are the most interesting and dynamic.
Despite the obvious racism and pro-Confederacy leanings, some say that GWTW is, in fact, the Greatest Novel ever written. After selling something like 25 million copies, I'd say that's a fair judgment. I guess Mom was right after all.

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