Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gone With the Wind Read-Along: Chapters 1-9

Last week, I found this post by Amy at My Friend Amy. She was proposing an informal read-along of Gone With the Wind and The Wind Done Gone. I've had a used copy of GWTW sitting on my shelf for awhile now, so I thought joining in as other bloggers read the book would be fun.

First, I must warn you that I have never read this book, nor have I seen the movie. I know, shocking, isn't it? It's just something that hasn't appealed to me until recently, even though I love the Civil War era. As a result of 25 years of complete lack of exposure to GWTW, outside of the occasional clip or famous line, I had no idea what to expect. I likely will draw some conclusions as I read this book that those of you who have read the book/seen the movie may laugh at because they're likely very naive in terms of what happens later, but I like to live under my rock, thank you very much.

Gone With the WindHere's what I thought of the first nine chapters:

I think Mitchell does a great job of portraying life in antebellum Georgia. The settings are lush and green, the manners are genteel and the people are charming. I can already see why, simply on the strength of her writing alone, Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for this book.

I have to discuss Scarlett O'Hara, as she is the main character and all. At first, I really liked her. She was just sassy enough to endear her to me, and she had a little extra spark that wasn't considered "proper" in a Southern belle. Then, she became a shallow little teenager. I had to keep reminding myself that she is only 16 years old, which accounts for her selfish behavior and flighty ways, because she was so obsessive about finding a husband. She has no ability to be nice or charitable to any other female, other than her mother, because she's always in competition with them.

She continued to grate on my nerves when she decided to marry Charles even though she didn't care for him. But, again, I had to remind myself that she was only 16 and a lot of 16-year-olds do really stupid, selfish things. However, she didn't get any better in the selfish department after getting married, becoming a widow and having a baby. If anything, she got worse because she became so jealous of all the girls her age who didn't have to live under the same restrictions she did.

Even though we only see him briefly in the first nine chapters -- once at the Wilkes' barbecue and once at the hospital fundraiser -- I really, really like Rhett Butler already. He impresses me as a Mr. Darcy: A man who has a bad reputation and makes for a really good foil to the main character. I think there's definitely a lot more to him than meets the eye, but we shall see.

I also really like Melanie. She's quiet, kind and definitely more deserving of Ashley Wilkes (What we know of him now, at least) than Scarlett is.

I'm really excited to read the rest of this book over the course of the next several weeks. I'm glad Amy decided to host this read-along and break the book down into manageable sections because, if I were to tackle it straight off my shelves and on my own, I think I might just end up putting it aside for something else because it's just so long.


Culinarychiq said...

I'm a huge fan of the movie but have only read half the book. You're right, it's a lot to read on your own (and I'm an avid reader) but so far I've noticed there's a lot of the book that the movie misses or changed so it's nice to see the difference. One thing I wish Margaret Mitchell would've extended on was the story of Scarlett's parents, especially her mother. I haven't read Scarlett (deemed the official sequel as allowed by Mitchell's estate) but I think her father's background is touched on a bit more (according to the movie version anyway).

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