Book Review – Gone With the Wind

January 12, 2012

Book Reviews, Breaking News

Gone with the Wind is a great read for people who like lengthy dramatic romance novels; my copy of the book is over 1400 pages long. It is based in Atlanta before, during, and after the Civil War. The novel successfully grasps the concepts of survival, romantic and unrequited love, the structuring of gender and class, and the way of life in the Old South compared to the New South. The Old South represents the way of life before the civil war, and the New South the standard of living post-war.

It’s set in northern Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction years, which are the years after the civil war and the south, in this case Atlanta, had to rebuild itself from the rubble. Gone with the Wind follows Scarlett O’Hara and her relationships with Rhett Butler, Ashley Wilkes, and his wife Melanie Wilkes.

Scarlett O’Hara is the protagonist of Gone with the Wind. She is a spoiled, high-tempered, and strong-willed sixteen-year-old Southern belle who lives a surreal life on a North Georgian plantation called Tara. Before the war, she takes care to hide these qualities under a veil of ladylike charm and her efforts are mainly directed to attracting men away from other women. Most of her life she is set on pursuing poetic and willful Ashley Wilkes. Although Ashley is to be married to someone else, she continuously yearns for him. When the war leads the O’Haras to lose their wealth, Scarlett has to find a new role. She gives up pretending and does whatever is necessary to become a wealthy and successful businesswoman, even if she loses the approval of the tightly-knit, traditional community. While she pursues these activities she longs for the married Ashley and is constantly seeking to find him alone to talk to and seduce him. The story accompanies her through the civil war and her hardships during the times when the South was falling as she struggles to put food on the table. Despite all of her flaws, I found it impossible to dislike Scarlett. Although we may not admit it, she resembles the selfish part in all of us.

Rhett Butler is the dark and handsome son of a wealthy family. Disowned by his family and expelled from West Point for dishonorable behavior, he is not “received” by any one. When the war breaks out, Rhett becomes a blockade-runner, believing that there is as much money to be made in the destruction of a civilization as in its rise. By the end of the war, Rhett is one of the few wealthy people in the South. Rhett is the one person who understands Scarlett, how selfish, strong-willed, and ruthless she is, and, truthfully, is the only person who could love her after knowing how “unwomanly” her behavior really is. Unfortunately, he is unable to tell her about his feelings, although they may seem obvious. One reason why he keeps his emotions under wraps is Scarlett’s obsession with Ashley, which he had known about from the start but he loved her regardless. Rhett represents the New South, whereas Ashley represents the Old South. Rhett Butler is a character that Margaret Mitchell makes everyone fall in love with. It is impossible to not feel his happiness and his pain. Rhett Butler is, in my opinion, the character that makes Gone with the Wind the timeless story that it is.

I enjoy Margaret Mitchell’s style. She is debatably one of the best writers in history. She has managed to do the impossible: write a book with plenty of description and keep the reader focused and interested. She is constantly making the situation more and more interesting to read, with twists, plenty of conflicts, and humor; one has no choice but to keep reading. It is a very unpredictable book that keeps surprising and astonishing its readers. Despite the length, it will not bore readers but rather keep their eyes glued to the page in the wee hours of the night. Margaret Mitchell has done a great job of developing characters, and throughout the story you slowly begin to uncover more and more about the characters from their choices and the way they act. I appreciate the way the characters reveal themselves through time rather than the author telling you what each character is like. Her writing gives you an emotional understanding and attachment to each character. I also enjoy how she has written the book from the point of view of someone who is not very kind and harsh at times. It is interesting to see people through Scarlett’s eyes and hear her opinions, opinions that readers will generally disagree with completely.

Even though parts of the book are sad and negative, one finds it very suitable. Scarlett does not have a picture perfect life, but this concept is not upsetting. Margaret Mitchell makes her readers understand that a person’s life story cannot always be the perfect one that people want it to be, and instead she writes the raw reality and, as a reader, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Margaret Mitchell shows us that sometimes life is beautiful and sometimes it is not. She does not write a fairytale, but instead writes the story of Scarlett O’Hara’s life, with all its ups and downs, successful moments and failures alike.

I find that the book has a fantastic balance of all the aspects including, romance, decisions, and survival. I also especially liked that the story takes place during the Civil War, which would become an important and life changing event for generations to come. She has not created her own world, but chosen to put her story right in the middle of a history that has already been written. This makes the story believable, from beginning to end. I would recommend this novel to anyone; I especially encourage it to those who like historic romances. Whatever your taste in novels, Gone with the Wind is a timeless classic, one that has affected my perception and outlook in ways no other novel has.

by Roz Yazdanmehr

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One Comment on “Book Review – Gone With the Wind”

  1. bellydancinglibrarian Says:

    What an awesome review of a classic story. I am a HUGE Gone With The Wind fan and have been since I was 16 when I first saw the movie. I’ve read the book and seen the movie more times than I can count. I also was positively impacted by Scarlett’s strong and determined character. So impressed was I by the 16 year old southern belle’s spirit and fly-in-the-face-of-convention attitude that 30 years later, I adopted her name for my stage name, and modelled my first dance costume after the green velvet dress Scarlett had her Mammy make out of Miz Ellen’s portieres. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve faced challenges in my life and thought to myself “What would Scarlett do?” Roz, I highly recommend the prequel and sequel to Gone With The Wind. Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig tells the story of Rhett as a boy growing to be a man and puts an end to the mystery behind why he was not accepted into polite company in Atlanta! Scarlett written by Alexandria Ripley follows Scarlett as she leaves the Charleston and heads to her father’s family home in Ireland. Both are awesome reads. Rhett is the proverbial bad boy that women secretly lust after…Scarlett’s the headstrong, independant woman that women secretly wish they could be.


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