A Brief Review of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

It is thanks to a renewed sense of getting back into artistic projects and such that I am perhaps here again after so long, and it is thanks to a friend who shall remain here unnamed that I got into reading again and was thus propelled to finish reading Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

It took me about a year exactly to read Gone with the Wind from start to finish, but I remember stories pretty well, so I was not really lost each time I picked it up again. I read it in spurts with long days and months passing between each go, but from part-way through Part 4, I managed to read it more consistently.

This massive book has five parts, and each part could perhaps been published by itself as a book in a series. I feel the same way about Lord of the Rings. The book it is most similar to, however, would be Wuthering Heights, as the romantic relationship between the protagonists is practically the same. Two black sheep of the family are made for each other but are generally manipulative and somewhat nasty to each other the whole time. I don’t think that’s spoilers. Anyhow, I can see why my one friend hated the movie, as this American saga is basically just as pleasant as Wuthering Heights, but it did end more pleasant and hopeful than I had expected.

The character of Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist, confused me at first. The book seemed to seesaw between two different interpretations for her mean ways. My preliminary conclusion was, “Is she evil, or is she Irish? The world may never know.” By the latter half of the book I did know: she’s evil. But understandable. Even so, I did get mad at her at one point and didn’t care about how she got on with her financial success; she’d gotten into that subplot by ill gains! According to the “About the Author” section at the back of my edition, the story is about characters that have “gumption” and those that don’t. She is ultimately a likeable character because she has the ability to make it through tough times of all kinds, including the Civil War and the struggles of the Reconstruction era.

It was interesting to read this Civil War era story after having read the Elsie Dinsmore series years ago. Both are fictional works set in the same era and both feature the Ku Klux Klan in very, very different ways. Gone with the Wind also has non-Christian characters while Elsie Dinsmore has a deeply Christian protagonist. It makes you wonder what the authors’ perspectives were and what really happened, in a sense.

The part of history that Gone with the Wind certainly got wrong was tightly-laced corsets. The historic costuming community would sigh over how this novel was one part in promulgating the wrong belief that women constantly couldn’t breathe and nearly fainted because of their corsets (although there are working scenes with no trace of tight corsetry.) It’s also ridiculous that a 20 inch waist was considered stout. That’s just not reality; the waist measurement of your skinniest adult friend would show that.

The introduction written by Pat Conroy described how his mother (and surely many others) loved this novel ardently, and mentioned how many have pointed out its flaws. I read it with the expectation that it wouldn’t be perfect, as no book except the Bible is, and was subconsciously swept up in the drama of the emotions and trials of its characters. I couldn’t move on to another book without letting its effect linger and fade first.

Other books on my reading list:

  • Kuutei Dragons
  • Business for Authors by Joanna Penn
  • The Songkiller’s Symphony by Daeus Lamb
  • Is Atheism Dead? by Eric Metaxas
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen

I am also working through reading the Adelaide Literary Award 2020 Poetry Anthology, of which I am a Shortlist Winner Nominee. I have a poem I wrote recently that is a good sequel to that, which I hope to send to them at some point. I am also waiting on feedback from beta readers for my WIP, Portal to Japan, and am in the middle of painting a red onion, among other projects.