Friday, 2 March 2018

Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

'I'm tired of everlastingly being unnatural and never doing anything I want to do. I'm tired of acting like I don't eat more than a bird, and walking when I want to run and saying I feel faint after a waltz, when I could dance for two days and never get tired. I'm tired of saying, 'How wonderful you are!' to fool men who haven't got one-half of the sense I've got, and I'm tired of pretending I don't know anything, so men can tell me things and feel important while they're doing it.'


Now that all my 2017 books are reviewed, here's the first book I read in 2018, from my Christmas break spent in Finland. I think I can safely say it's also the best book I will read this year. What a
terrible idea to get a jackpot on the first book!
I had the absolute pleasure to read mum's beautiful copies
from the 1970s!!
Anyway, the spoiler is that I really liked this book. My mum's been telling me to read it for a while now and I can only speculate why I haven't read it before. Well, to be honest, I think I know why. 
You see, Gone With the Wind clearly has a reputation of some sort. I've heard it being called one of the greatest love stories of all time and all that, and I think it's really downplaying the importance of this masterpiece. It is a love story, sure, and it is a great one. But it's also a story about war and misfortune and death and misery and unfairness and inequality and racism and patriarchy and a million of things that I find should be mentioned before it's just branded a romantic book for women.  Heck, Margaret Mitchell herself stated that the primary theme of this book is 'survival'. That's not really anything we should outright label as a women's silly little pastime.

The books had these lovely pictures from
the movie!!
'Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it's no worse than it is.'

Scarlett O'Hara is without a doubt one of the best-written characters I've met in any book. She's self-centered, spoiled and shallow in the beginning and she's still all of these things in the end, but the growth of her character is so well-written and believable. She's stubborn and she refuses to give up when her world turns to ash around her, unlike most of the other characters who just cling to the past. She's the most beautiful girl and she knows it, but she's also so sincere in just wanting to live her life having fun that she's hard to not like. She's also much more intelligent than she's allowed to be for a woman in her time, which I really enjoyed as well.

'After all, tomorrow is another day.'

All of the other characters are so good as well. There's Scarlett's crush Ashley, attractive and artistic and incredibly unsuited for Scarlett and probably so attractive to her because of it. The Tara household also has a black caretaker called Mammy, who's incredibly difficult not to like. Scarlett's sister-in-law Melanie is basically the kindest person ever and everything else Scarlett doesn't even
want to be but she still thinks the world of Scarlett, and Rhett Butler is a charming scoundrel who doesn't care to even try and gain the approval of the Southern nobles. He's also the only one not to fall for Scarlett's charm, and the two of these are the main romance of the book. I must say that it was impossible for me to not smile every time Rhett was around, because his character was so enjoyable to have around and such a great fit for Scarlett, insofar as anyone could be.
Melanie on the left and Rhett and Ashley on the right

Scarlett and Rhett's relationship is probably so memorable and iconic because it's not the standard love at first sight -kind. These two characters challenge each other and dance around each other constantly, and never quite settle into a comfortable relationship. In a way, even the aspect of this book that you should be able to take comfort in is a constant battle.

'No, my dear, I'm not in love with you, no more than you are with me, and if I were, you would be the last person I'd ever tell. God help the man who ever really loves you. You'd break his heart, my darling, cruel, destructive little cat who is so careless and confident she doesn't even trouble to sheathe her claws.'

The historical setting of this book is the American Civil War. What I knew about the war beforehand could be summed up in the following two points: 1) the South wanted to keep slaves and 2) the South lost. And while that's kind of the gist of it, this book made me understand how it was much more complicated and many-sided. Margaret Mitchell was from Atlanta, Georgia herself, and much of the historical aspects are based in her own experiences and the stories she heard. You could probably argue that the story takes sides, but to me it felt rather sincere about what it was trying to get across. This war is not part of my heritage, but I cared and weeped for the characters going through the hardships regardless, because it all felt so real.

So yes, 5/5, I loved it, I want to go back in time to not having read it but I also don't want to not have read it. Please read it and talk to me about it.

1 comment:


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