Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

November 19th, 2010 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Borrowed from the library

Publication Date: First published in 1936

Description from Sometimes only remembered for the epic motion picture and “Frankly … I don’t give a damn,” Gone with the Wind was initially a compelling and entertaining novel. It was the sweeping story of tangled passions and the rare courage of a group of people in Atlanta during the time of Civil War that brought those cinematic scenes to life. The reason the movie became so popular was the strength of its characters–Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, and Ashley Wilkes–all created here by the deft hand of Margaret Mitchell, in this, her first novel.

This book has been on my to read list for years and finally thanks to a read-along with my online book club I finally buckled down and tackled the 1000+ page behemoth.  I have never seen the movie so pretty much the only thing I knew about the book was the classic line “Frankly…I don’t give a damn.”  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.  Even having just had a baby two weeks earlier and seriously lacking in sleep I had a hard time putting this book down.  Scarlett was such an infuriating character that there were times I wanted to slap her silly and yet you do have to sort of admire her tenacity in getting what she wants.  Scarlett’s behavior towards her children was probably what I found most appalling.  I felt so sorry for all of them and in particular her eldest son.  She was so cruel to him and then she was surprised to find out later that he was terrified of her and preferred the company of other women.

Rhett also was a bit of a surprise.  I wasn’t expecting him to be such a rebel and basically a jerk to everyone except Melanie.  And yet he is so honest and forthright that it is a refreshing change from all the other characters who would put on a face and lie through their teeth in order to be considered “proper”.  My heart broke for him after the experience with his daughter towards the end and the circumstances where he delivered the famed line “I don’t give a damn” was not something I had pictured in a million years.

It was also interesting to see the type of behavior that was considered proper during this time period.  I found it ridiculous that people could actually believe it was better to starve and be poor than to receive people in their homes that didn’t have the proper background and that people were considered peculiar if they were interested in reading or education.

The ending of the book was a shocker for me and left me wanting more.  I know there was a sequel written by another author but frankly the reviews I’ve read have not been the greatest and I truly wonder what Margaret Mitchell would have written if she had done a sequel.  If you have not read this classic I highly recommend you make the time to do so.

Question for those that have read this already (might contain spoilers for those who haven’t read it)

What did you think about Ashley’s character?  Scarlett had put him up on this high pedestal but I really agreed with Rhett that it was pathetic that Ashley could not seem to stand on his own two feet after the war.  I know it must have been a horrible experience but there were other men who went through just as bad an experience and still managed to get back on their feet.  I also wonder if he realized himself earlier on that he was really more physically attracted to Scarlett than truly in love with her.  He seemed to have no clue whatsoever about her true personality.  From her behavior it seems hard to believe he could miss at least some of her selfishness and self-centeredness.  I have to admire Rhett for putting up with Scarlett’s infatuation as long as he did.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books, General Fiction, Historical Fiction

5 Responses

  1. Carol Arsenault

    Great question. I never really liked Ashley very much myself. I always thought he was in love with the idea of Scarlett, not Scarlett herself. He was such a weak man and his experiences during the war really just emphasized that. At lease Melanie understood what he was and loved him anyway – Scarlett never understood him properly. What a pair!

  2. April (Books&Wine)

    I love this book and the movie.

    See, I actually liked Scarlett, because she’s strong. She’s open with how she feels and doesn’t hide behind the polite facade, mostly. And she does what it takes to survive.

    And Rhett, oh did I love him.

    I thought Ashley was a waste of space, lol.

  3. Linda

    I liked Ashley but not as a match for Scarlett. He obviously loves Melaine very much. He’s compassionate to the mill workers. He’s the opposite of Rhett who is a better match for Scarlett. She needs someone to stand up to her and for her.
    It’s one of my favorite books. I used to read it all the time. Haven’t read it in a few years.

  4. Michelle

    I haven’t read the book but do count the movie as one of my all time favorites! I watch it most every time I see that it’s on the television. In fact, I think it’s traditionally on during the Thanksgiving holiday so I’m going to have to check it out.

    Also, give Rhett Butler’s People a try, I read that several years ago and it’s Gone with the Wind from his view. A slower read but quite good.

  5. dsuzuki

    I agree Rhett was a good fit for Scarlett since he wouldn’t let her to walk all over him.

    Michelle-I really need to see the movie now. I’ll give Rhett’s book a try. Thanks!

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