All too often, when the book 'Gone With The Wind' is mentioned, people let out a groan of derision. Mostly these are people who have only seen the film. The film, although a wonderful classic, is a product of its times. Like many epics of that era, it is none too subtle. It also feels overly dramatic, no doubt the effect of cramming such a long story into a single film. The novel, however, is flawless. It may get written off as a romance in the same vein as Mills & Boon, but anyone who has read it will agree that is a most unfair comparison. It is a brilliantly researched historical drama, containing many finer points that are only discovered upon a second, or even third reading. The characters are so vividly drawn, and as the novel takes place over many years, there is real scope for development. Scarlett O'Hara is utterly believable as the flawed heroine, as is Rhett Butler, the cynical anti-hero. Ashley is symbolic of the civilisation 'gone with the wind'. But the most quietly fascinating character of all must be Melanie. The love story between Scarlett and Rhett is not so central a theme to the novel as survival and the struggle for independence. For a novel that contains such a broad scope of events and rich abundance of characters, Margaret Mitchell manages to keep a tight rein on both plot and pace. There are those books that make such a profound impression on our own lives that we never forget them - 'Gone With The Wind' is such a book.