Has there been a film version?
Yes, in 1939. It won a record 10 Oscars, sold the most tickets of any movie ever made to this date, and adjusting for inflation, is the highest grossing film of all time. It played continuously for four years.
Who are the important characters?
Scarlett O’Hara – a southern woman who is a spitfire, she’s beautiful and selfish
Ashley Wilkes – a gentleman from a neighboring plantation whom Scarlett is in love with, he symbolizes everything about the Pre War South
Rhett Butler – a handsome scoundrel who is first a blockade runner during the war, and then a Scalawag
Melanie Wilkes – Ashley’s wife, gentle and sweet, always there for Scarlett despite her own troubles
Mammy – a large black woman who raised both Scarlett and her mother, now she works for Scarlett
Aunt Pittypat – Melanie’s aunt, a nervous, flighty woman who faints easily, she’s very naive
Wade Hampton Hamilton- Scarlett’s son from her first husband, Charles
Ella Kennedy – Scarlett’s son from her second husband, Frank
Bonnie Butler – Scarlett’s daughter from her third husband
What’s it about?
This is the story of the war and Reconstruction of Georgia as told from Scarlett O’Hara’s point of view. It’s also the story of her journey to maturity and knowledge of self. Scarlett believes she is in love with Ashley Wilkes, the gentleman from down the road. And she always believes he is in love with her, despite the fact that he is married to the good-souled Melanie. When the war breaks out, Scarlett is married, widowed, and a mother within a year, and goes to live with Melanie and her Aunt Pittypat. She keeps running into Rhett Butler, a handsome blockade runner who always seems to turn up and can see through all her lies and posturing. When Scarlett is run out of Atlanta with the weakened Melanie, and a new baby by Sherman’s army, she flees to Tara – her home – where things aren’t quite as she remembered them. During the hardship there, she swears to herself that she will do anything to get rich enough so she never suffers again…even if it means betraying everything she was brought up to believe valuable.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Despite the fact that it’s over 1000 pages long, the story moves quickly and is very engrossing. There are enough familiar battleground places involved so that anyone with a cursory knowledge of the Civil War will know what’s going on, and the plot involves so many different settings and situations, there is something for everyone.
Do I recommend you read this book?
Yes, if you enjoyed the movie. And even if you didn’t – which was the case with me. Like I said, however, it’s a huge book.
How did this book make my list?
It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner and a famous novel.
Has it won any awards?
The Pulitzer Prize in 1937 and it’s one of the best-selling American novels of all time.
“They only knew, as surely as they knew there was a just and jealous God in Heaven, that Lee was miraculous and the Army of Virginia invincible.” – p 256
“For an instant Scarlett envisaged her trip to Atlanta and her conversation with Rhett with Mammy glowering chaperonage like a large black Cerberus in the background.” – p 547
“She could not ignore life. She had to live it and it was too brutal, too hostile, for her even to try to gloss over its harshness with a smile.” – p 607
There is an official sequel to the book called “Scarlett” that was written by Alexandra Ripley in 1991. And there’s a book due out this November about the War and Reconstruction from Rhett Butler’s perspective called “Rhett Butler’s People.”
This book is incredible. Mitchell has managed to capture the entire soul of both the South and the Civil War between the covers. She deftly portrays the paths of two women and two men who are on the tough journey between the first shots of the War to the end of the Reconstruction of Georgia. And each, while faced with the same difficulties, becomes a different person from the rest and from the person they began as. Scarlett becoming hard and selfish and strong, Melanie becoming more loving, more giving and yet just as strong as Scarlett – the two women needing each other more than they realize. And Ashley slowly devolving as what he knows and loves is stripped from him and Rhett taking advantage of the situation while fighting for Scarlett’s affections in the face of opposition at every corner while hiding his heart.
And this could be considered a completely separate book from the other stories going on. The destruction and rebirth of Tara; the rejuvenation of Atlanta and other cities by carpetbaggers and corrupt politicians…not to mention the battle for the capitol of Georgia with Scarlett in the thick of it. I insist on anyone who considers reading a hobby to read this book as soon as they can – and savor it.