Gone With The Wind
With this reissue of Gone with the Wind, I decided that it was time for me to finally read this Pulitzer Prize winning classic and see what all the fuss was about. I hadn’t seen the movie either, so this was going to be a clean slate affair for me.
Well, I am thankful that I read it. This book earns its reputation as one of America’s all time classics. This was the most multilayered, touching, and haunting depiction of war I have ever read. But it is not only about war and loss; it is about love, loyalty, bravery, and survival, and discovering too late what is really important in life.
This is an epic novel about the Confederacy. As a born and bred Northerner, I never understood the Southern point of view of the Civil War. Now, I do. I will always be grateful to this book for engaging my interest in the Civil War and opening my eyes to the Southern states’ suffering and their loss of an era.
On a literary level, Mitchell’s characters are fresh and alive, especially the detestable rogue turned doting father, Rhett Butler, the self-absorbed and determined Scarlett O’Hara, the loyal, sensitive, and saintly Melly Hamilton, and the stern yet loving Mammy. It was hard to find anything likable about Scarlett, a feeling I struggled with throughout the book. The same thought applied to Rhett, up until a certain point. There were enough likeable characters, on the other hand, to make up for that discomfort. But being forced to accept the characters as they truly are was one of the highlights of the novel. The book is HUGE (over 950 pages) and, for the most part, “unputdownable.” The book seems to have been well researched (at least from the Confederate viewpoint), and there are many descriptive details of battles, the burning of Atlanta and of the Georgian plantations, the plights of both slavery and emancipation, and the Reconstruction Era. I highly recommend this book, both for reading pleasure and for a poignant lesson in Civil War history.