“Oh, you’re smart enough about dollars and cents. That’s a man’s way of being smart. But you aren’t smart at all like a woman. You aren’t a speck smart about folks.” (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)
I assumed I’d enjoy Gone with the Wind for its writing, its atmosphere, for all of the good things that people talk about when they mention this mid-century classic. I did not expect to like Scarlett. I certainly did not expect to be able to relate to her in a way I seldom am able to relate to female protagonists. Though she doesn’t stop much to analyze her own feelings, in one passage Scarlett admits to herself that she’s lonely. I can’t get that admission out of my head. When has a strong female protagonist ever admitted that she’s lonely? Almost always, strong female characters are either incredibly popular with other women (and small animals), or too strong to ever admit a weakness as fundamental as loneliness. I, being a strong female protagonist in my own life, am also lonely. And also, perhaps, not so good with folks.
Everyone who caught me reading Gone with the Wind seemed somehow impressed by its length. But, any reader knows that if you are always in the middle of a book, if you have a rock solid habit of reading in your life, reading a large book is no different than reading two, or maybe three, books right in a row. Just as librarians complain about a lack of diversity in literature (especially children’s literature), I think that there’s a lack of diversity in book lengths these days. Publishers believe that customers only read a standard American 300 page novel, and so that’s what they publish. Nice, lovely, long reads get put out of print, or never make it into print in the first place. So, I’m encouraging you to not be impressed when you next see someone reading a large book. Don’t even be impressed with yourself when you finish one. Simply delve into long books whenever the mood overtakes you, and enjoy the different quality of writing that length brings.
Recommended Action: Buy -
Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Ending: Frustrating if you’re interested in the romance, perfect if you’re interested in the development of Scarlett’s character
Incidental Learning: Civil war, southern life, Atlanta in 1860’s
Further Reading: Somehow, this book has always been associated in my mind with Lonesome Dove. Another long, atmospheric book I intend to read pretty soon.