Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Originally published by The Macmillan Company (1936)
What can I say about Gone With the Wind? I can’t even summarize this 1000+ page book, to be honest. I’m sure most of you have read the book, watched the movie, or at least know the general plot, so I’ll spare you my clumsy attempt at a summary.
I first read Gone With the Wind in 1998. I was in eighth grade, and my friend Christina told me that it was her mom’s favorite book, and that she was going to read it and I should too. After we both read it, we watched the movie together at her house. While I know I was a pretty intelligent eighth-grader, I am sure that I did not even begin to grasp how important of a novel this is at the young age of thirteen. Now that I have read it a second time, at twenty-seven, I am absolutely sure of how important this novel is. And I am here to tell you that I absolutely, without a doubt, LOVED Gone With the Wind.
Is it incredibly long and somewhat slow in parts? Yes. Is there waaaay too much racism and hatred in this book? Yes. But… is it historically accurate? I don’t know, I didn’t live in the Deep South during the Civil War, but based on everything else I’ve read about that time in our country’s history, I think that, yes, this book shows a pretty accurate depiction of that time. What surprised me most about the novel when I read it this time around is just how accessible it is. I always have a hard time with classics – I find the language and the writing clunky, difficult to get into, the dialogue unfamiliar, and the characters unlike people I have ever known in real life. Gone With the Wind is so different from that description – I had no trouble at all getting into the writing, and although some of the dialogue wasn’t what I’m used to (maybe part of that has to do with the fact that I’m a Northerner, ha!), it didn’t stop me from getting invested in the story and the characters. Scarlett seemed like a real person to me, as did Rhett, Melanie, Ashley, all of them. I was shocked by how refreshing this classic was – how even though the novel takes place in the 1800′s it felt incredibly modern to me.
And oh my goodness, the love story? EPIC. I mean, I have seen love stories be described as epic before, but guys – this is the most epic of epic love stories. And there’s more than one, really. And when Scarlett gets to the point in the novel where things finally click for her and she “gets” just how epic her love story has been… well, it’s amazing. And heartbreaking. Mostly heartbreaking. But I’ll let you discover that for yourself. Why didn’t anyone remind me how sad the ending is? I don’t think my eighth-grade self was capable of feeling the depths of sadness that I felt this time around when I finished the book.
Anyway, this has gone on long enough for a review in which I have nothing really new or interesting to add to the conversation about the book. But please, if you are one of the people who still hasn’t experienced Gone With the Wind, do yourself a favor and read it. I cannot imagine that you will be disappointed.