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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ripping Yarn - with one massive flaw
This is a book with a thoroughly unlikable heroine; it is shot through with jaw dropping racism, so how can it qualify for four stars?

The simple answer is that it is fundamentally an absolutely ripping yarn. Margaret Mitchell's achievement is in creating a set of flawed characters, but then making the reader care about what happens to them. Couple engaging...
Published on 31 May 2008 by P. G. Harris

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, just not for me
I thought I would enjoy this book as I enjoy period classics, but unfortunately it wasn't as good as I thought. This book is extremely long. Why use one word when you can use twenty? This combined with the personality of the heroine was too much for me. Having said that, it is an interesting book and I can see why it has become one of the must read books. Good book, just...
Published 26 days ago by Fiona


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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ripping Yarn - with one massive flaw, 31 May 2008
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
This is a book with a thoroughly unlikable heroine; it is shot through with jaw dropping racism, so how can it qualify for four stars?

The simple answer is that it is fundamentally an absolutely ripping yarn. Margaret Mitchell's achievement is in creating a set of flawed characters, but then making the reader care about what happens to them. Couple engaging characters with a beautifully paced plot and it is easy to understand why Gone With The Wind is still in print and massively popular.

It is the story of selfish, determined daughter of a plantation, Scarlett O'Hara, her enduring love for neighbour Ashley Wilkes, his marriage to Melanie, who becomes Scarlett's devoted friend, and of course the love of Rhett Butler for Scarlett. The context of the story is the American south before, during and after the civil war. We see the relationships between the characters develop as they go from affluence, through degradation in defeat, and then rebuild.

Scarlett is of course the centre of the book and Mitchell skilfully plays with the reader's emotions towards her heroine. Basically she is selfish, spiteful, snobbish, racist, a hideously bad parent, an exploitative employer, but courageous and engaging. Initially we dislike her as a spoilt brat, her marriages are exasperating, we grow to admire her courage as she fights to survive during and after the war, she becomes a figure of ridicule as she joins the nouveau riche and finally her inability to understand Rhett's love is frustrating, infuriating and eventually tragic.

I have never seen the film, only heard the famous lines, and so was surprised to find that Rhett Butler, rather than being a heartless cad is in fact brutally honest with himself and is a strong and proud man brought low by his love for the unknowing Scarlett.

Despite the fantastic nature of the story, the epic background, the major flaw which cannot be ignored is the appalling racism. I was ready to be accepting and view the racism in the book as a portrayal rather than an espousal of the attitudes of the time. I'm afraid I can't maintain that line, Mitchell is too clearly and openly sympathetic to slavery. Her attitude is basically that slaves are subhuman, that the "good" ones prefer enslavement and that the institution was vindicated by the fact that the North perpetrated some unacceptable acts in abolishing it. Some of the sections after the civil war are just dreadful in their proslavery sentiment. It is almost unbelievable that this book was written and published in a democracy during the 20th Century. This is further illustrated by the toe curlingly embarrassing speech patterns Mitchell gives to the slave characters.

That the book can still have any validity despite this is a testament to the power of the story. The whole thing cracks along superbly with some brilliantly evocative scenes which will stick in the mind for a long time: the first time Scarlett dances with Rhett, the birth of Melanie's baby, the flight from Atlanta, Scarlet and Ashley in the Saw Mill and of course the final scene between Rhett and Scarlett.

In a strange way GWTW reminded me of the Lord of the Rings. It is not a great work of literature. It has some serious flaws, but it is an absolutely fabulous story, and it gave rise to a whole sub genre, while remaining superior to any of its successors.

So final thoughts.
-I highly recommend GWTW as a thundering good read, but be aware you'll need a strong stomach
-Don't be daunted by the size, the plot is well paced and it never drags
-It's not just a girly book, I'm an (ex) rugby playing bloke and I loved the story
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Day Heroine in a Latter Day Age, 18 Sep 2003
By 
Miss Samantha Mitschke (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
"Gone With The Wind" is primarily seen - by those who have not read it - to be a slushy, romantic novel with little or nothing in it to interest them. How wrong they are!

Not only does the story deal with love and romance (unrequited love; being in love with each other but unable to have each other), it also deals with politics (The American Civil War), tragedy, comedy, history (we learn an incredible lot about the lives of Southerners and their beliefs), desperation...most of it seen through the eyes of Scarlett O'Hara, who in my eyes is very much a modern day heroine in a latter day age.
She is manipulative, cunning, exasperating and spoilt as the story begins, and to an extent remains so, but as the events of the novel unfold - in particular the Civil War - she changes several times. Her "tigeress" streak is always very much apparent, but we sympathise with her because, I feel, she symbolises what many of us are, have been or will be in our lives.
Scarlett is a victim in many ways - namely of the adoration and doting of her father Gerald, who spoils her relentlessly and therefore "ruins" her - but she always somehow manages to turn the tables to her advantage and emerge the victor, however long and drawn out the process may be.
Like Alex in Anthony Burgess' "A Clockwork Orange", she is very much the anti-hero but yet we like her. I feel that this is a difficult device to achieve and it just shows the mastery of Margaret Mitchell that we are able to do just what Mitchell wants us to do.
Another key thing to note is the way that Mitchell manages to show us the "stupidity" of human nature. Melanie finds it inconceivable that Ashley and Scarlett could ever have feelings for one another; Scarlett cannot see or imagine Rhett loving her; and so on. It makes the reader groan to realise that the characters are so blind to one another, and also spurs them on to read the rest of the book and find out what happens.
"Gone With The Wind" is almost like a Bible or dictionary of human affairs and emotions. From war to romance, terrible suffering to children, "Gone With The Wind" has something for everybody in it. And we can't forget Scarlett's catchphrase - "I'll think about it tomorrow". What a philosophy!
Overall, a brilliant book with fantastic characters, wonderful storyline and something everybody will enjoy.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece in every way, 7 Mar 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
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.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really, really great book!, 19 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
'Gone With The Wind' amazed me. I thought it would be light, throwaway romantic fiction. Instead, it is a tough, believable, intelligent and completely gripping historical novel.
The characters are mesmerising, plausible and original - I expected more cliches, but having read it I have come to the conclusion that GWTW created the cliches because it is just so damn good!
I can really see why people still consider it the greatest historical novel ever written. The fact that it has survived the test of time, unlike the many books that are applauded as brilliant one year and forgotten the next, should give you some clue as to just how good this book is.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply The Best, 3 Jun 2007
By 
Ros France (South West France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
Everyone will have heard of this book, many will have watched the film, and drawn assumptions. This is NOT a bodice-ripping saga, not by any means. This is an extremely well written novel - clear, coherent, often humourous, flowing, with a large cast of well crafted characters (including the unlikeable but ultimately unforgettable Scarlett!)all contained within a finely planned plot. The historical background is well researched and used with consumate skill to add body and context to the story. This book is exceptionally well written - it won the Pulitzer Prize, yet so many people don't read it because they think it will be romantic, soppy women's stuff...............and it soooooo isn't! This book deserves 10 stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, War and Survival, 26 Jan 2007
By 
Ms. K. A. Beats "K. Beats" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
Although this book is certainly intimidating to look at, being over 1000 pages long, it also takes a little while to get into and certainly to forgive the writer and the period for certain terminologies, and yet I can say with some surprise that this is the best book that I have ever read. Not only does the author take great care with relating historic events of the period, but her characters are equally well researched and thought out. Although none of the characters deserve our unwavering admiration or rebukes, they damn our apathy. This book is about the struggle to face the realities of changed circumstances, the ability to understand emotions which are so well concealed that even we cannot guess their true feelings. Ultimately, this book is about lose of innocence, and the selfishness of survival and whether we like it or not, every reader will see themselves in the actions and emotions of the characters, but we hope to have the ability to learn from their mistakes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I could eat this book, I would- amazing!!!, 7 Oct 2007
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
This is a really great book that is interesting as well as informing. Margeret Mitchell shows Scarlett's character very well, and explains her motives behind her increadible bitchiness. I love the character of Scarlett- she is not one of those perfect main characters like in a lot of books, she is actually very spoilt and full of herself.

There is a lot of racism in this book, but I think it just makes it more realistic, as that is how it was in those days.

Altogether, it is a really good book, though be prepared for a very long read- it is over 1000 pages long! It is good for all ages of 12 and up.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow wow wow, 22 Nov 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
I can not praise it enough - I find reading hard work and never tackle big books if i can help it. I friend pursuaded me to try this though and wow. I haven't eaten, drunk or been out in days...I couldn't take my nose out of it. Even better all my 'unbelieving' friends are getting it for Christmas and I know there won't be any disappointment when they start it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than 'Crime and Punishment'!, 22 Aug 2001
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
And that really is an accolade! GWTW has for a long time been my favourite film, and I can't deny that I thought the book would be a pale shade of the film - after all, I knew the story back to front, and this book was spread out over a mammoth 1000 pages! I was going to take 'War and Peace' on holiday with me last summer, but opted at the last minute for GWTW, simply because I fancied some light reading. I couldn't have been more mistaken! After reading the first 50 pages any preconceptions (misconceptions too, I guess) I had had about the novel had been blown away. I remained completely engrossed in it right up to the tear-jerking finale. The characterisation in the book is yet more rich than that in the film, and there are several superb extra episodes missed out in the film. I can't recommend this book highly enough. GWTW is still my favourite film, of course, but I honestly rank this book above anything else I've ever read. The fact that it was a best-seller rendered me automatically suspicious, but I am so glad I decided to read it! Historically it is accurate down to the smallest details and Mitchell winds the most tragic love story of all time into one of the most turbulent periods in American history so skilfully that it is hard to believe it is a work of fiction! A masterpiece.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankly my dear..., 13 May 2005
By 
R. K. Harvey "harvey_rebecca" (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (Paperback)
This book is great! Yet it does not have the line "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn!" that we're all so familiar with. Mitchell has created a truely wonderful novel, that you will enjoy from cover to cover. Neither main character has particularly good qualities (apart from them both being good looking) yet you can't help but like them. I want to be Scralett and I love Rhett Butler!
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