Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

     This month I had some time to enjoy a long novel, and I happened to see a copy of Gone with the Wind. I’d read the book and seen the movie during my high school years, but I’d always thought that some day I’d read it again. I enjoyed replaying favorite scenes, such as Scarlett’s "I’ll never be hungry again," her tearing down the drapes to make a new dress, her flight from Atlanta, and Rhett’s famous parting words, "Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn." I also enjoyed becoming Index_2 acquainted with parts of the book that I didn’t remember from my first reading. I’d remembered Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, and Melanie in somewhat one-dimensional terms, forgetting what wonderfully complex characters Mitchell created. I hadn’t recalled Scarlett’s success as a businesswoman running lumber mills and a store; I’d mainly remembered her love life. Even much that I thought I remembered about Rhett, Scarlett, and Ashley was wrong, I discovered! I’d over-simplified the story with the passage of time.

     On this reading, too, I was struck by the fact that this book became an instant best-seller during the 1930s. It made sense to me that people suffering through the depression would relate to Scarlett’s spunk during the difficult Reconstruction years and would understand the longing of many of the novel’s characters for an earlier, happier time. It also seems natural that women living before the days of feminism would be fascinated by Scarlett’s success in a man’s world.

     If you are looking for one of the world’s most beloved romances, for a Pulitzer Prize winner, or for a book which some consider to be the "great American novel," read–or re-read–this ever-popular book, which is all of these things rolled into one.

(Helen Snow, Information Services)

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