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Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the WindGone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an engaging and exhausting book. The best word I can think for it is epic. Its length (1,450 pages) and scope ("a cast of thousands") were truly epic. While Mitchell's writing is not elegant in terms of anything you can analyze, her characters are memorable and--yes--larger than life.

 Mitchell's dialogue and setting are beautiful and descriptive. Despite its flaws, somehow this "glorified Harlequin romance" has a magic to it that has captivated readers for 60+ years.

For the first time I feel like I have more understanding and compassion for the Confederate viewpoint during and after the Civil War. I recognize that the book is romanticized propaganda, but knowing that also makes me question the Yankee propaganda that was passed down that I probably have always accepted as fact. I couldn't help but appreciate the Southern traditions and culture depicted. And if you want to talk about "greatest generations," I think the brave men of that war have got to be up there. The Civil War was such a tragic war that has left indelible marks on the soul of this country.

I felt mixed reactions to the characters. Scarlett's gumption is admirable, but she is such an unlikeable character, causing emotional train wrecks everywhere she turned, that it was hard to spend so much time with her. Many of the characters seem two-dimensional to me, but still I was engaged and entertained for the entire novel. I don't remember the movie since seeing it as a kid, but now I'm prepared to watch it again. This novel is one of those experiences you need. At least see the movie even if you don't take the time to read the book. Its widespread effect on American culture is undeniable.

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