Margaret Mitchell spent a decade of her life writing her novel, “Gone With The Wind”. It originally began as a way to pass the time as she was laid up with an ankle injury. The story was set in the south during the Civil War and Reconstruction era. Margaret was a true Southerner, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She grew up hearing stories of the glorious South, and of the War Between The States. Although the book is fictional, it does give the reader a window into the heart of the south.
At the center of the story is Scarlett O’Hara, a spoiled young woman who lives on her parents’ plantation, living the life of a wealthy belle. She yearns for the love of Ashley Wilkes, but instead he marries the kind, compassionate Melanie. Then the Civil War breaks out, leaving Scarlett and her family desperate and impoverished. Rhett Butler keeps popping up in the story and trys to win Scarlett’s heart, but her fixation on Ashley keeps her from appreciating Rhett’s affections.
The historic flavor of this book is incredible. It’s like stepping back in time, and walking through the 1860s. You read of the pleasant life of the well-to-do families and their social customs. The chapter where Atlanta is burning is so vivid that you can see it in your mind. And the descriptions of the wounded soldiers and the doctor trying to treat them with almost no supplies is heartbreaking.
One of the things most interesting to me was the contrast between the characters of Scarlett and Melanie. Scarlett has ambition and drive, but is totally devoid of conscience or caring for others. Melanie, on the other hand, has an almost other-worldly aura about her. She is deeply caring of others, and sees their hidden hurts when no one else does. Her humble nature is directly opposite to Scarlett’s. The relationship between the two women is fascinating.
This is not a book you can rush through. Pick it up when you have the time to read it leisurely. Enjoy those thousand-plus pages!