Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind
Margaret Mitchell

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As with all great classics, I am hard-pressed to say anything original about Gone With the Wind. This is my second reading and I still love the book. If you have seen the movie, but have not read the book, read the book. There is a great deal more that will only add to your enjoyment of the story line.

Some things I did not know about Margaret Mitchell made re-reading the book all the more interesting (thank you, Wikipedia). Mitchell’s maternal great-grandfather was from Ireland and settled on a slave-holding plantation in Georgia. Her grandfather fought in the Civil War and made a lot of money in the lumber business after the war (just like Scarlett!). As a young girl, Mitchell heard a lot of Civil War stories from her relatives and visited the ruined plantations in Georgia. And, most interesting to me was that her mother was a women’s rights activist.

I think these points are important because they give you a better understanding of the characters in GWTW. And I think the most interesting point is Mitchell’s portrayal of Scarlett as a shrewd and independent businesswoman during a time when no women ran businesses or even played a role in commerce, except maybe in selling pies like Mrs. Merriwether and taking in sewing and boarders like Mrs. Elsing. (Or Belle Watling’s business. Belle’s character is also quite modern, profession aside.) Mitchell also portrays Ellen, Scarlett’s mother, as the true head of the plantation, with Gerald as a figurehead.

Although I love this book, it is difficult to read the sections about slavery and the slaves on the O’Hara plantation. The O’Haras take pride in their kind treatment of their slaves, yet their language is clearly condescending. It’s a bad part of American history and all accounts of this time-period make me very uncomfortable and ashamed.

I think Mitchell’s description of the post-war period is very good and it shows what a mess Atlanta was and how the Southern way of life known and loved by its people was forever lost. I like how the characters, particularly Melanie and her followers cling to their committees and old customs, even when the Northerners take over the city.

There are certainly many, many other points to add about the characters and the book, Melanie’s goodness, Ashley’s displacement in the new South, and Scarlett’s inability to understand and appreciate the people around her until it is too late.

I like Rhett Butler the best. He is very modern, thinking it ridiculous never to mention pregnancy and birth control. He loves children and these things make him even more appealing. You want to forget how he makes his money, his drinking and what he does over at Belle’s house because he is so likable and smooth. His flirtatious conversations with Scarlett are so fun to read, but my favorite parts are when Rhett shows his true feelings to Melanie, and sadly to Scarlett at the end.

Like music? Check out my literary playlist of music to complement Gone with the Wind on Spotify.

Have you ever read the sequel to Gone With the Wind? I read Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley years ago. I read it because I was curious what may have happened to Scarlett and Rhett, but when a sequel is written by a different author, it doesn’t seem authentic. I don’t remember much about it, but I don’t think it was very good. I mean, how do you top GWTW?

And if you want to know more about Rhett Butler, check out Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig. Just as cheesy as Scarlett, but I couldn’t resist!

How do you feel about literature that depicts shameful periods of history? Can characters on the wrong side of thinking still be good? I have trouble with this, do you?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

6 thoughts on “Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

  1. Reblogged this on Book Club Mom and commented:

    Celebrating four years of blogging this month! Here’s my first post ever – Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – a classic historical fiction during a shameful time. What’s your take? Can good people exist on the wrong side of morality? Does Mitchell portray realistic characters? Is the story still enjoyable despite the subject?

  2. I rarely reread books–in fact the only book I’ve reread in the past decade was “The Shining” in anticipation of the sequel “Doctor Sleep”–but this is one I wouldn’t mind revisiting. I read it as a teenager. My feelings would no doubt be different now. Back then I probably didn’t appreciate the historical elements. I’m sure, like you, I’d now have difficulty reading certain passages.

  3. How lovely for us that you re-shared your first post. I have neither read nor seen GWTH. Wow! I’m maybe the only one. I enjoyed reading your review though, and getting a sense of the story. I understand how uncomfortable you feel with those shameful stories of our past. We have them in Australia too. I remember when I read Michener’s Chesapeake (back to your side of the water) years ago, I was very uncomfortable with the thinking. It seems incomprehensible to us now, as aspects of our thinking will also be to future generations.

    1. Thank you, Robbie. I think I’ve read it 3 times now. The last time I read it, when I wrote this post, I saw many new things about the story. Let me know if you re-read it. I also read a book called “Rhett Butler’s People” which was interesting – but obviously not as good as GWTW. Hope you’re having a good week, Robbie!

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