Source: giftshop at the Margaret Mitchell House Museum
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
When my parents came down to visit us a couple weekends ago we spent some time sight-seeing, including a stop at the Margaret Mitchell House where Margaret Mitchell wrote the bulk of Gone with the Wind. I had seen the movie when I was much younger and vaguely recalled it, but upon visiting her home and the Gone with the Wind museum in Marietta, GA, I realized I'd never read the book. So I picked up the cheapest copy the gift shop had and started reading it that day. Now, finally, after almost two weeks, I've finished. And I'm in love.
Talk about an amazingly written novel. Included in it are rich and dynamic scenes filled with description, deep characters with very distinct personalities, and almost every human emotion is explored. No wonder it's almost fifteen-hundred pages! You can't cram all that into a three hundred page novel. It's not the most historically accurate novel ever written and it is admittedly racist at points, but so were the times in which it takes place and was written. Aside from that, the novel is beautifully written and immensely interesting.
I think what I loved most about this work was how linear it was; a strange thing to love I admit, but it makes the plot so easy to follow. It spans twelve years and time flows through the novel without any flashbacks. Things happen in an order and the way it was written it made me feel like there was more. It was like Mitchell could have written so much about Scarlett O'Hara and Gone with the Wind is just a brief window into Scarlett's life. Reading the novel, it seemed like Scarlett must have had an interesting life before the novel started, and certainly much, much more of a life after the novel ended. The ending is certainly open-ended, with no definite conclusion other than Scarlett finally realizing what a phony she is, but I think it ended perfectly. If we'd had a definite ending to this epic novel, I don't think it would have been as popular as it has been. Much of the discussion about Gone with the Wind comes from the question of what happened to Scarlett after the novel ends.
A couple decades ago the estate of Margaret Mitchell allowed a sequel to be written and I've heard mixed reviews about it. If Margaret Mitchell had written a sequel before her untimely death I would be reading it tomorrow, but I don't know if I want to taint my view of this masterpiece with either of the authorized sequels.
It's rare that I read a book and don't swap it after I've finished it, even if I've loved it. But this one is going to stay on my own personal shelf. That in itself is a testament to how much I enjoyed this novel.