Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gone With The Wind -- Book Review

Oh my. If you have never read this book...or haven't read it in a very long time, treat yourself and immerse yourself in its almost 1,000 pages! I confess that I took this with me on Spring Break and did little else but read -- this book made me stay up late and wake up early -- couldn't put it down, until it was done...and then, of course, I was so sad to see it finish.

Written by Margaret Mitchell and published in 1936, this is an epic story of love, war and survival set in Georgia during the Civil War. Scarlett is so unbelievably appealing to me because she is bold, cunning, ruthless and fearless AND so is Rhett Butler. It is probably one of the greatest love stories of all time, and even more appealing because it is full of tempest, and passion, rage and danger. As a couple they are evenly matched and the unpredictability of their actions and words, leaves you constantly shocked or disappointed -- but trust me, these two happened to the world -- the world didn't happen to them. And, suffice it to say, they evoke A TON of emotion in the reader -- even if you know the story, the book is worth the read again and again! Three months after being published, the book had sold one million copies and just one year later, the novel won the Pulitzer prize. To say it was a tour de force is an understatement.

In 1939, the movie was released starring Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh and went on to win 10 Academy Awards. Today, the movie is considered one of the most popular and greatest movies of all times and, when adjusted for inflation, Gone with the Wind is the highest-grossing film ever! This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the release of the film in Atlanta, and the film is being restored for release on DVD sometime this year. Four hours long, this film is magnificent and true to the book, down to many of the famous lines.

Rhett Butler to Scarlett when she asks him to kiss her: "No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how."

Scarlett, when Rhett proposes that they marry: "It's fun for men -- though God knows why. I never could understand it. But all a woman gets out of it is something to eat and a lot of work and having to put up with a man's foolishness -- and a baby every year."

And Rhett, in response: "I said you'd had bad luck and what you've just said proves it. You've been married to a boy and to an old man. And into the bargain I'll bet your mother told you that women must bear 'these things' because of the compensating joys of motherhood. Well, that's all wrong. Why not try marrying a fine young man who has a bad reputation and way with women? It'll be fun"

But one of the most delightful parts of the book is the relationship between Mammy (Scarlett's nursemaid) and Rhett and the red petticoat. You can read the whole scenario here, if you want. And, Hattie McDaniel who played Mammy in the movie was the first African American to win an Academy Award and it was for Best Supporting Actress.

When Margaret Mitchell was asked what Gone with the Wind was about she said, "if the novel has a theme it is that of survival. What makes some people come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong and brave go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don't. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under? I only know that survivors used to call that quality 'gumption.' So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn't."

Scarlett, when faced with starvation: "As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

It's a must read. Just don't plan on doing much else while you're reading it.

Next up for me in the 1% Well-Read Challenge is Deep River by Shusaku Endo.


Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Although I loved this movie, I've never had any desire to read the book ... until now. One of the online reading groups is planning to read it this summer and I think I'll be joining in!

crafty diane said...

I absolutely love Gone With The Wind! The book and the movie! It is my all time favorite! I have read the book many times. What is so funny is, I have a very old copy of it that belonged to my mother. There is one page that was torn out of it about midway through before I ever read it. So I have read that book without the page several times. When I was about 29 my niece bought me a new copy of it and I said well, I would finally find out what was on that page! I have read the new book a few times, but I still like my old book! LOL
Have a Blessed Day,

Marty52 said...

Y'know, I have never read this book... your review has sparked some definite interest. Hopefully I can find it in trade paperback... love that size!

allie aller said...

Long before the days of DVDs or cable, my mom made a point to see this movie 14 times at the theater.
I'll never forget asking her why, and her pulling her old hardback volume off her study's shelf.
She handed it to me and said, "Go find out....." I was 13, and utterly, totally mesmerized.

My mom liked Mammy best too!

Nancy G said...

...I too "knows nothin' bout birthin' babies"...*smile*
nor have I ever read the book. But you know, you have sparked interest, also! Thanks!

Mary Timme said...

I've never read the book! Not ever! Whoops maybe way back when I was 15 or so I did. Not sure. Hmmmmmmm. Might read it.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

O, I have read it. Twice. I remember going to the theater to see it with my mother when I was young. I read the book when I was a teen and then again when I was in my twenties.

After I was married, it came to the theater again. I told my husband we must see it. He said lets wait till its on TV. I insisted... NO.. We are going to see it on the big screen with no interuptions. You cannot get the full impact of this movie on TV.

The book is much better.
Don't you love to re-read a passage savoring every word.

There are two phrases I have used all my life. One is "I don't know nothin' bout birthin no babies"

and from the Wizard of Oz...
Don't make me get my flying monkeys.

Thanks for sharing, Susan. This post brought back many memories associated with the book and the movie.


Wanda said...

I really enjoyed your book review. I haven't read it in years. Thank you for sharing the made me smile! Well, you do that all the time!

Jenny Girl said...

What a great review! This is my favorite movie of all time. I haven't read the book in many years, so I guess I'm due for a re-read.
Thanks for the inspiration.

black bear cabin said...

excellent...ive been meaning to read it and you inspired me :)

mee said...

This is a great review. I just bought the book for $2.95 (what a bargain!). I should read it soon. It's the time. (No, I haven't read or watched the movie yet)

Ms. SP said...

If I remember correctly, I read this book before I saw the movie. My younger self was so disappointed in the movie because it was nowhere as good as the book. The book really is one of those under-appreciated pleasures.

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