― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
My Rating: 4 Stars
Gone with the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. It depicts the struggles of young Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea. A historical novel, the story is a Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story, with the title taken from a poem written by Ernest Dowson.
1. Oh, Scarlett. I had forgotten just how unlikeable every character in this book is (with the exception of Mammy and Melanie, honestly). Rhett is manipulative and sneaky, Ashley is moon-headed and wimpy, and Scarlett is simply a spoiled child.
2. And yet… I love her so. But! There are so many redeeming qualities to Scarlett, aside from her waistline (16 inches, my goodness). Scarlett is a feminist in the very earliest sense of the word. Post-war, she starts her own lumber mill (going about getting the money in ways only Scarlett could), she rides in carriages on her own, she is good at math and isn’t scared to show it… She’s not likeable, no. But she is smart as a whip, and sassy too, and I can’t help but love a character like that.
3. Ah, slavery. This book is definitely problematic when it comes to race. There’s a distinct sense that all “darkies” love their masters, would rather stay with their families than live on their own, and owe everything they have to them. The ex-slaves who dare go out on their own are talked about as trashy, illiterate, and violent. Mitchell wrote this book in 1936, so I took the whole story with a grain (or a few grains) of salt, but sometimes it was downright difficult to read, because no.
4. This book is SO. LONG. I read it for the Around the Year challenge, which has been pushing me to read 52 books in a year, and they all have to fit criteria. I chose this one for the 600+ pages book (because, obviously), and it took me nearly a month to read. It was good, really, but there were times that I ended up skimming over the more flowery, descriptive passages.
If you’re in the mood to read a long book, this one is a good one to dedicate the time to!
“Burdens are for shoulders strong enough to carry them.”
“Well, my dear, take heart. Some day, I will kiss you and you will like it. But not now, so I beg you not to be too impatient.”
“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
“Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.”
“Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.”
“You’re so brutal to those who love you, Scarlett. You take their love and hold it over their heads like a whip.”