Enjoy my first review from what I’m deeming my “Southern Month.” As a good Southerner, I should have read Gone With the Wind way before now, but I hadn’t. So here’s to my efforts to rectify this travesty.
Gone With The Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell
Oh, uh, the Amazon link above won’t give you a cover like the one you see to the right… it’ll give you something I don’t quite feel comfortable being the featured picture on the reader. You get the movie’s picture instead.
Something I will be accounting for in this review is the controversial portrayal of slavery. Sometimes I read a book and, even though it’s old, will complain about the author’s obviously flawed sensibilities. I’ll try to keep the time period in mind, but I won’t hold back punches if they need to be made!
Ok, first off: WOW. I see why this book was one of the top-selling books of all time. Holy crap is it well constructed. Though it’s enormous (418,000 words, approximately 1,000 pages), it went amazingly fast. The sentences were masterfully gorgeous (though she didn’t use the Oxford comma, which nearly killed me), and her characters were as rich as chocolate cake.
As someone who didn’t know what to expect going in, I had no idea that Scarlett was such a scamp. She was horrible, but she was strong, determined, and smart. Scarlett was a great female character to read because she never really gives up her femininity, but she works and succeeds in a man’s world. It shows both a wonderful side to her, but also the horrifyingly evil side. I’ve never read a book with a character built like her before. For this reason, I’d say Gone with the Wind is worth reading as long as you take it with a big ol’ grain of salt.
Because WOW. Holy crap is this book racist. It’s a damn shame it’s so racist, because the book as a whole is fantastically built. It’s racist in both casual and overt manners. Even though I believe Gone with the Wind is worth reading, I also recognize that it might not be worth it for everyone, and I don’t believe it should be required reading for, say, high schoolers. If you do want to read the book, be careful, because the sheer, stupid amounts of racist comments are numerous and spread throughout. Read it for the fantastically built plot and character of Scarlett O’Hara, but criticize it in all your heart for its terrible, inaccurate depictions of slavery and life in the segregated South.
5/5 Discoball Snowcones – because I loved it despite the egregious errors
I think this book could be considered a tragedy. Scarlett works hard to get through awful events during and after the war, so you kind of rooted for her even though she hated everyone including her children. I enjoyed how Mitchell wove in careful ideas about how women’s lives were made harder by their being blamed for their own rapes/assaults, and how that blame carried over into larger events like Klan lynchings. Perhaps I’m reading this into the story due to my millennial age status, but I thought it was very clear.
The foils between Scarlett and Rhett vs. Melanie and Ashley were so well done. Scarlett and Rhett were intelligent and heartless, while the other two were all heart with no intelligence. Despite Scarlett’s hardness and Melanie’s apparent weakness, by the end of the book it’s clear that Melanie was truly the stronger one all along. In addition to the cleverly built Scarlett, Melanie was such a fantastic foil to go along with that salacious hussy of a main character.
The ending was also perfectly vague. Will Scarlett get Rhett back? Will she use his money to keep being successful? Will she ever like either of her still-living children or Melanie’s “brat”?
I believe she will. She’s not failed at anything else she’s set her mind to, so why assume she won’t succeed when the book ended?
Stick around for a story with more Southern flavor, this time from a non-white perspective! I’m excited to present my review of Oprah favorite, The Underground Railroad.