Gone with the Wind is one of those movies that is so timeless that even though we live in the time of constant remakes, this is one that would be impossible to redo. Almost everyone has seen this movie at least once…ok, most have seen it half a dozen times or more. I know I have. Could you imagine anyone playing Rhett and Scarlett other than Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh? No way. We’d probably end up with Channing Tatum and Megan Fox. Pardon me while I go throw up.
As many times as I’d seen the movie, I’ve never read the book until now. I had found a copy in a used book sale somewhere, calling out to me to finally grab it.
And folks, I’ve read a lot of books that have been made in to movies, and there are not many that have been done THIS well. About the only thing I don’t remember from the movie is Scarlett having two other kids. Did that happen in the film? Maybe I just need to go watch it again, but the only film baby I remember was Bonnie. And Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh? DEAD ON CASTING. Whoa.
What most people say about this book/movie is this: “Oh my gosh, BEST LOVE STORY OF ALL TIME!!!”
Yeah, ok, there’s a love story here. Kind of. I see it. But the love story is so far off on timing, that I wouldn’t really call it the best ever. And really, I don’t think that’s what the book is about.
For me, this book is one of the strongest historical fiction novels based during the Civil War and Reconstruction that I have read so far. Mitchell did her homework, and left nothing out. If you are reading it just for the passion, you’re missing so much.
She writes in detail about the politics of the time, the historical figures, how the slaves were treated. There’s a a part in the book where Scarlett is thinking about how the Yankees read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and took that as the bible on slave ownership. They thought that all slave owners whipped and branded the slaves, and how frustrated Scarlett was when she tried to explain otherwise.
(And…for the record…I’m not saying I agree with slavery, but I appreciate Mitchell giving us more points of view into a history that we can no longer see. If that makes sense. I always enjoy learning about the past.)
It’s that sort of thing that fascinated me about Mitchell’s writing. She could have just given us a standard romance novel and women would have been thrilled. But, this book has turned classic because she went so much deeper than that.
Mitchell also appealed to me on a feminist level, and I’m sure a lot of housewives have picked up this book with that same feeling too. Scarlett O’Hara did not conform to societal norms. Life tried to beat her, and she fought back, until she became a strong, hard woman. She had her own business, she was active and intelligent in politics–even going against what her husband and friends believed in. She did things in her life that, while other people found them to be trashy, had to be done to survive. I don’t agree with all of her choices, but I understand why they were made.
This one is going back on my shelf to be read over and over again. I loved it, not for the passion, and “romance.” Because frankly, I found it annoying. Scarlett’s obsession with Ashley frustrated the hell out of me, and Rhett needed a good thrashing sometimes (and if it were Clark Gable…I’d be glad to do it. *ahem*). But there are so many things to learn from this book that get missed in all that nonsense. Reread it. You’ll find it too.