10 June 2017

Gone with the Wind

     This week I finished listening to Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for the second time. I loved it just as much as I did the first time (and still hate the ending). It is often called the "great novel of the South," which I think is an apt description. Reading it definitely made me more interested in the Civil War and the way it changed day-to-day life for both the North and the South.

     For some reason, I tend to enjoy books whose main characters are not likable...Gone with the Wind is definitely an example of that. In fact, you could argue that there isn't a single likable character in the entire novel. But somehow that makes it more enjoyable, more compelling. Vain, manipulative Scarlett O'Hara; coarse and unpredictable Rhett Butler; maddeningly sweet Melanie Hamilton; ineffectual Ashley Wilkes...they're all obnoxious in their own ways, yet somehow the reader can't help but love them. Or at least care what happens to them.
     One nice aspect of this book is that no character's actions are all good or all bad. (Not even Melanie's!) They're much more human in the way they all make mistakes and all have moments of goodness. There are misconstrued motives, miscommunications, volatile characters, stubborn characters, some who are both stubborn and volatile. It's easy to be pulled into a book which is so like real life. Pulled into it enough to stick with it through the entire lengthy saga.
     I listened to Gone with the Wind as an audiobook. The whole thing was just over 49 hours long. (For comparison, Les Miserables is over 60 hours and War and Peace is almost 62.) It's an exciting 49 hours! Murders, romances, parties, escapes, danger, death, humor, history...it all happens between the pages of this book.
     There is an old and very famous movie of Gone with the Wind starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. It was made in 1939 and is the highest-grossing movie of all time in Canada and the USA. It was the first major film in color, too. It's more than four hours long, but man they had to cut a lot from the story! The original cut of the movie was over seven hours. I wonder if even that was time enough for the whole story. Anyway, it's a very well-done adaptation. It would be interesting to see a newer version of it (now that film in color is no longer a novelty), but it seems that no one has undertaken the task since 1939. Ah, well, perhaps for the better.
     The main downfall of the book is its abysmal ending. Talk about no closure whatsoever! Remind me never to write an ending like that in one of my books.
     So anyway, I really like Gone With the Wind. I know some people who hate it, which I can understand. But I'd say it's worth a try for anyone who's interested in a great civil-war romance!

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