Trigger Warning: This novel and it’s review contain descriptions of and mention the following topics: enslavement, physical abuse, attempted rape, depression, war, burglary, adultery, murder, illness, death.
Goodreads Rating: Both -5 Stars
Gone with the Wind: 1936
Gone with the Wind is one of my all time favorite reads. I’ve read it at least three times and seen the movie about a dozen times, and every instance makes me love the tale more and more. Even though the novel is over 1000 pages, I remember devouring Mitchell’s words and lavish description of what has become an iconic remembrance of antebellum times.
In the novel, Mitchell has laid the plot of a spoiled plantation heiress, Scarlett O’Hara, the debutante dejour and apple of her father’s eye. All the eligible young men in the area are keen to get her attention, but she only’s one had eyes for Ashley Wilkes, who is already “engaged to be engaged” to his cousin, Melanie Wilkes. During a grand barbecue that mixed the high class southern plantation owners, the announcement is made that the North and the South were at war.
Here starts the drama, the imagery, the nuance of how the South rose to fight against the North, how they battled relentlessly, and how they came to find their way of life trampled in the red clay. This is the point of contention for the controversy that has arisen about this novel, because it recalls a low point in American history that causes a lot of shame and outrage to many groups, but the thing I think is important to remember is that this is an account of how that war in that era impacted those people. It’s a encapsulation of those feelings, that broken society, that drastic change to life. Through Scarlett’s eyes, we see how the mighty fall, and how their pride made them determined to rise and adapt.
For Scarlett, this novel follows her from naive, manipulative, selfish, and stubborn plantation heiress and socialite, to a determined business woman eager to get her own way (though still possessing the aforementioned traits), and finally to a woman who has done everything she can to get in her own way, who has created destruction throughout the course of her life, and who at the end, finally decides to rebuild and start over. Much of her story line parallels on a grander scale with the war and it’s impact on those around her. Her family’s plantation home, Tara, also reflects the glory of the antebellum south, the battles of war, and the determination for renewal.
In Scarlett, Ripley continues on Mitchell’s legacy by creating an epic ending for such an epic character and story arc. In the almost 900 page sequel, the reader finally learns what becomes of Scarlett, Tara, and Rhett Butler.
Ripley does a fantastic job embodying the writing style of Mitchell, maintaining all the atmospheric description and character development that leads to a likely, satisfying conclusion. Ripley gave readers what Mitchell could not- closure with the relationship between Scarlett and Rhett. I can’t give more details without spoilers, but if you haven’t read this sequel, you must!
What Makes it a Classic?
The depiction of the antebellum period that Mitchell encapsulates is a treasure in literacy history. Despite the conflicts that arise when discussing culturally appropriate historical literature, Gone With The Wind allows readers to be transported into that tumultuous time period in American. It’s popularity, along with a star studded movie adaption, helped it rise to classic status.
TL/DR: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is a classic Civil War novel about a the Antebellum south in the 1860s, and the destruction of the Civil War. The novel focuses on main character Scarlett O’Hara and her self-centered ambitions to win over the heart of a certain man. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley is a continuation of Scarlett O’Hara’s story, created to follow Mitchell’s original work.
Read it? Abso-freakin-lutely. Despite the controversy of this novel’s time period and America’s history of slavery, this novel clearly depicts the life of a privileged southern family in the mid-1800s, and the historical events that shaped America as it is now.
Recommend it? Yes. It’s a beast of a novel at over 1000 pages, but it’s well worth the read and my favorite classic novel to recommend.
Buy it? YES!!!
Watch the movie? ABSOLUTELY. Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable as Scarlett and Rhett? How could one not watch such a classic match-up? Plus, Vivian’s Scarlett birthed RBF and that famous arched brow.