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October 19, 2018

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell ~ a #GreatReadPBS

by Susan Roberts

As of October 11, Gone with the Wind was in the Top 10 of most popular books from the Great American Read.

How it begins...

Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. In her face were too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch o hazel, starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin - that skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgia suns.
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Gone with the Wind
The definitive story of love and war in the South, Gone with the Wind won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia and brings to life unforgettable characters that have captured readers for more than eighty years.

Gone with the Wind has been chosen as one of America's 100 favorite reads by the new PBS program America Reads.  Do you think it should be part of this list?

I first read Gone with the Wind when I was about 13.  My Mom had an old copy of the book with double columns on each page and it was the longest book that I'd ever read.  Being a typical 13 years old, I was thrilled with the romance and the pageantry of the Old South that the book presented.

After I read it again in my 20s, I still enjoyed it but my takeaway from it was very different.  Instead, I marveled at Scarlett's strengths against the adversity that she was presented with.  Yes, she was a headstrong flirt but behind that persona was a strong woman who knew what she wanted and went about trying to get it.  She ran a plantation and took care of her family near the end of the Civil War and then was successful when she went back to Atlanta.  I realized then that the romance wasn't between Scarlett and Rhett - what Scarlett really loved was the land - throughout the book, she fights to keep her land because it's all that remains of the life that she's lost.

I have read Gone with the Wind 5 or more times and try to re-read it every 10 years. I think it definitely should be one of the 100 Greatest Books.  It's the first book about war that doesn't concentrate on the bloody battles or the fighting heroes.  Instead, it's about the destructive effect on people caught in the crossfire of the war.  The South lives through the horrors of war and remains unbroken, though it is forever changed. The Old South is gone, but as long as the land remains its people will always be able to start life over again.

Buy Gone with the Wind at Amazon

Quotes from Gone with the Wind

Gerald O'Hara to Scarlett  "Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything, for ’tis the only thing in this world that lasts."

Rhett to Scarlett as they escape burning Atlanta:   “Take a good look my dear. It’s a historic moment. You can tell your grandchildren about how you watched the Old South fall one night.”

Scarlett at the end "I’ll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day."

Facts about Gone with the Wind

The novel was first published in 1936. It was popular with American readers from the outset and was the top American fiction bestseller in 1936 and 1937. As of 2014, a Harris poll found it to be the second favorite book of American readers, just behind the Bible. More than 30 million copies have been printed worldwide.

Mitchell received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the book in 1937.

It was adapted into a 1939 American film starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh and produced by David O. Selznick.  At the 12th Academy Awards, it received ten Academy Awards (eight competitive, two honorary) from thirteen nominations, including wins for Best Picture, Best Director (Fleming), Best Adapted Screenplay (posthumously awarded to Sidney Howard), Best Actress (Leigh), and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, becoming the first African American to win an Academy Award).

The film is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time; it has placed in the top ten of the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 American films since the list's inception in 1998; and, in 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Gone with the Wind is book 26 in the American Library Association's list of the 100 most-banned classics.

By Employee(s) of MGM [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. I remember immersing myself in this epic one summer many, many years ago as required high school reading.

  2. I never read this book, but I loved the movie.

    1. It's one of the few movies that I think is as good as the book. thanks

  3. This is my mom's all-time favorite book. I haven't read the book myself, but I really enjoyed the movie.

  4. Would it be awful of me to admit that I have neither read this classic, nor watched the film!

    The American Civil War, whilst not a subject I know too much about (being a Brit), does interest me to a point, as my father-in-law was fascinated by the subject for some reason, so we used to discuss it regularly at family gatherings.

    In fact, my last read novel was about the Civil War and that was written by an English author, who I think did the subject real justice in his writing - 'Whippoorwill' was written by R.L. Bartram.

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend :)