Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Digital Audiobook narrated by Linda Stephens
Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 1st 1999 (first published 1936)
Genres: Classics, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Romance
Length: 1037 pages or 49 hours, 7 minutes
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Gone with the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell, first published in 1936. The story is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. It depicts the struggles of young Scarlett O'Hara, the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do plantation owner, who must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman's March to the Sea. A historical novel, the story is a Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story, with the title taken from a poem written by Ernest Dowson.
Gone with the Wind was popular with American readers from the onset and was the top American fiction bestseller in the year it was published and in 1937. As of 2014, a Harris poll found it to be the second favorite book of American readers, just behind the Bible. More than 30 million copies have been printed worldwide.
Every time I read this book, I get a little something different from it.
My first read was a sheer feat of determination: I was eleven, and it was a huge book. And an adult book. I felt like a rock star.
The second time, I fell in love with the story. The richness of the world Margaret Mitchell presents is astounding.
The third time, I fell in love with Scarlett. Scarlett is the immense character of spirit and soul, with an unbreakable determination and strength. I envied her strong shoulders for bearing the burdens she did, and her ability to say “Fiddle-dee-dee!” and not care what others thought.
This time, I’ve fallen in love with Melanie Wilkes.
Melly has been on my radar since the beginning, but like Scarlett, I haven’t always had the patience for her slow, deliberate actions and selfless heart. As I get older and smarter, I have learned to appreciate this silently strong character. Where Scarlett will trod over anyone she must to rise to the top, Melly stands resolute behind all the other characters, both a sanctuary and a rock. She is graceful and poised. Most of all, her kindness stands out. Strangely, this is an uncommon characteristic in literature, but it makes Melanie all the more bright.
As long and grueling as it is, Gone With the Wind remains vehemently one of my favorite books. From the richness of the story to the depth and growth of the characters, I find myself drawn into the Old South. Margaret Mitchell effortlessly paints different shades of Georgia – from the grand plantations to Yankee-occupied Atlanta. You can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell every aspect of this novel and every book should have this incredible balance of description and experience.
As I’ve mentioned, the characters are fantastic. There are parts of Rhett and Scarlett that, four reads in, I’m still not certain about. One of the most popular post-reading questions about this book is: “Do you think Rhett and Scarlett will make amends?” and I love this question, because I don’t know. The more I read it, the more I think that the best they can ever hope for is a struggling friendship but… ah… anyway, if you’ve read Gone With the Wind I’d love to hear your opinion on this.
I understand and acknowledge the problematic scenes where POC characters are portrayed in a stereotyped manner and slavery is longed for… I try to be mindful that Gone With the Wind was written in 1936 and the world has grown smarter, more respectful, and more accountable. Characters like Prissy and Big Sam are unfairly characterized especially. There are racist terms used blatantly. That said, I would fully recommend reading this book despite these portrayals, but knowing they are there and that they are problematic.
In short, this book is a classic for a reason. It is beautifully written, the characters are relatable even almost ninety years later, and I love it. Three good reasons for you to give Gone With the Wind a try.
Intimidated by the size? No problem. The Recorded Books version read by Linda Stephens (this one!) is fabulous.