Book Review: Gone With The Wind

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.

The Book

p5094_v_v8_aiGone With The Wind
Author: Margaret Mitchell
1936
Amazon Link

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!

Non-Spoiler Review

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

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

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?

Next week:

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.

27 thoughts on “Book Review: Gone With The Wind

  1. joanne the geek says:

    I doubt I will ever read this, but was interested to know more about it. I’ve never seen the film, so it’s not something I know a great deal about. I knew it was set in the South during the Civil War, but that’s all really.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Well, I thought the characters were just so good. I did end up giving it 5 stars because I loved it, but man do I understand if someone wants to give it 1 star, though.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      I try to give people credit for their time period. At the same time, I can also see how being the *target* of racism from a work would change your perception of it. I read “Trail of Lightning” last year (I can link it if you want), but I felt like it was offensive and didn’t have anything to offset that. Still… reading this book and liking it so much makes me wonder if I was sensitive to anti-white racism but not to other racism.

      (I still think Trail of Lightning was probably just not good, though, because I can read books with horrible female characters – like most of Asimov – and enjoy them)

  2. Miriam Hurdle says:

    I guess racial issue is the sickness of a society. Both masters and slaves took it as a matter of fact. The racial mentality, attitude, and expression were the norm to the masters and the white society. Probably at least the first and the second generations of slaves took it as something they were born with, something they had to accept, and nothing they could do to change it. Did they know any better? They might.

    I didn’t read the book Gone with the Wind. I watched the movie twice. I may watch again after reading your book review.

    Another movie I love equally is Dr. Zhivago.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      When I think of slavery and how that sin affects us, both black and white, I think about Joshua 7 and what happened with Achan. Achan had taken some things from Jericho, and God promised punishment if the Israelites did that. Rather than all be punished, they killed Achan and his family then burned them. They did this because it had been seven generations of wandering due to a single sin that propagated, affecting both the innocent and the guilty. And here we are, a great sin perpetrated for *so long* and with *such intensity* that most of us suffer for it. All we can do now is try to root it out of ourselves, to try and make recompense if we can. It’s my belief that only God can make things truly right, but I think it our duty here on earth to do as much healing as we can, especially if our human brothers, sisters, and siblings are hurting.

      Haven’t seen Dr. Zhivago! But I’ve got such a long list of movies to watch, haha!

      • Miriam Hurdle says:

        The OT give us many examples with great details, yet we don’t seem to pay attention and learn from them. We just have to do our part and spread the Good News and pray that we make a difference in as many lives as we touch.

        Someone posted a review of Devil in a Blue Dress by Denzel Washington of how he deals with racial issues in LA in the 50s. I’ll see if we could watch it tonight.

  3. robertawrites235681907 says:

    This is a simply splendid review, H. I read this book a long time ago but have it on my re-read list of classics. I also thought Scarlet was horrible but I loved her and I found Melanie to be a wimp. In my mind, Scarlet and Rhett get back together.

  4. D. Wallace Peach says:

    I haven’t read the book and probably won’t despite the awesome characterization. I don’t think I’d be able to handle the racism without wanting to rip out the pages. I did watch the movie years ago and didn’t like any of the characters, LOL. They were so “dramatic.” I wonder if other Margaret Mitchell books have the same characterization and construction strengths(?). Fascinating review, HRR. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.