Sunday, March 8, 2009

Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell (Week 1)


I decided that my progress has been so slow in reading this book, that I had better do weekly updates, just to make myself feel productive. Please don't get the wrong impression. I am thoroughly enjoying this novel. It is extremely well-written, filled to capacity with rich historical detail about the South in the 1860's, and tops it off with the guilty pleasure of Scarlett's histrionics and drama. But the words are teeny tiny, and the book is over 1,000 pages long, and I've been distracted. So here I sit a week later, with only a hundred and fifty pages under my belt.

Just a few observations thus far. First, for all you movie fans (myself included), this will be a delightful treat for you. There are many similarities between the book and the movie, but there are little nuggets of fun in the book you didn't get on the silver screen. You find out that Gerald O'Hara acquired Tara through a card game. You learn about the courtship of Gerald and Ellen, the wild Irishman and the well-bred French woman. You find out that Scarlett had a child by her first husband, Charles Hamilton. But the most rewarding bonus for me was getting real insight into Scarlett. In the movie, I just wanted to smack the girl. On the written page, we have the benefit of knowing her inner thoughts.

Which brings me to my second observation. I have alot more empathy for Scarlett than I did before reading the book. She is a 16 year old, and like most girls this age, she is self-centered and dramatic. I can't fault her for that. I was the same way at that age. She is also feisty, independent, outspoken, and prefers to buck tradition and go her own way. I like that. The expectations of unmarried females during this era would have driven me up the wall too. If you are unmarried, you can't eat in public, you should faint now and again to appear in need of saving, you should never appear too intelligent, and there are strict rules of attire, depending on the time of day. Ugh. I also found quite touching her devotion to her parents. Here is a line that struck me, when the O' Hara family was doing their evening prayers:

"As always since childhood, this was, for Scarlett, a moment for adoration of Ellen, rather than the Virgin".

There are some amazing quotes from this book that have stood the test of time. I have many many favorites that I will repeat in the course of a day, even now. Each week, I will leave you with my favorites that I've read so far. This week's is a classic, but it always gets to me, perhaps because I was raised on a farm, where land is king. This was a lecture that Gerald O'Hara gave Scarlett, who didn't quite get it:

"Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything", he shouted, his thick, short arms making wide gestures of indignation, "for 'tis the only thing in this world that lasts, and don't you be forgetting it! 'Tis the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for - worth dying for."

16 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

You've got twice as far as me! I'm really enjoying it so far. I have been reading other books this week, but hopefully I'll be able to catch up soon.

Beth F said...

Excellent write up. It's been a long time since I read GWTW, and your post brought some of the joy of the book back to me.

I remember reading the book on summer vacation. I think I was in high school -- back when I had good eyes and could read all day long without interruption. I plowed through fairly quickly.

I don't think I'd dare pick this one up on audio -- what would it be? 70 hours???

C. B. James said...

Makes me think twice about reading it. Sounds like a good summer book for the book club.

Have you tried reading glasses? You can find them at your dollar store and they've really helped me. Otherwise, I'm afraid I couldn't do the small print anymore.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - I'm glad its not just me! I'm hoping I will experience a surge that happens sometimes. Otherwise I'm going to be at this awhile!

Beth - That would be interesting to listen to this on audio. It would be long, but can't be any longer than your average Outlander series audio!

ANovelMenagerie said...

This book is truly amazing! I have read its sequel, "Scarlett," as well as last year reading "Rhett Butler's People." I loved THEM ALL!

There are many things about Scarlett that you will learn that are not in the movie. Although, I never wanted to slap her in the movie... I always got her. I'm all emotional and dramatic like her. I just love her! If I could be any fictional character, I'd be her!

Anyway, I love reading about you reading this! It makes me want to re-read it ASAP!

Sheri

Sandy Nawrot said...

James - Uh, yes, I do wear reading glasses. I am humiliated but I do. I am only 42! But is does help. It still takes me forever to get through a page. Pisses me off.

Sheri - I wish you were reading too! Just today, I read in my EW a book that just came out called "Frankly My Dear", which is primarily about GWTW. Still! It is phenomental read, and obviously still makes an impression!

Literary Feline said...

Distractions do tend to slow progress down on big books like this, I know! I am glad you are enjoying it so far.

Melody said...

I haven't watched or read this title, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts, Sandy! I've this book in pile but I'm not sure when I'd get to it. I guess I'm intimidated by its volume, it's such a chunkster! LOL.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Wendy - my biggest distraction has been sick kids. I have another one home with me today. No reading for Sandy!

Melody - the book is huge and very intimidating. Had I not been spontaneously compelled by Matt, I probably would not have picked it up on my own.

Melissa said...

I read this one a while ago, but your post brought some of it back to me. I especially love the last quote you posted.

ds said...

Hi! I found you through the comments you leave over on C.B.'s
blog. I enjoy reading them, so I came over...Read GWTW so long ago, but your final quote is my favorite from both book and movie (gotta be a farmgirl thing). Look forward to reading your remarks as you get further along...

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melissa - there are so many great quotes from this book...I'm planning on posting one each week!

DS - I am so glad you stopped by! I love James' blog. It was one of the first ones I attached myself to. I do believe growing up on a farm gives you an enriched perspective on the value of land and heritage. Perhaps this is why this movie touched me even as a kid!

Matt said...

My reading has been on hiatus and I shall be picking it back up again tomorrow as I have to make p.414 by the end of this week. I've got exactly 100 pages to go.

I find it ridiculous that unmarried women cannot eat in the public. What is wrong with eating in the public? I am also upset that Scarlett doesn't give two straws about Wade, although she was not a tad in love with Charlie. She still has to assume the responsibility of a mother. You find very little coverage on the kid.

I avoid the small-print by getting the new trade paper back edition. :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

Matt - all of the expectations put on unmarried women back then make me crazy! I would have been running a whorehouse like Belle, with my attitude towards dumb rules! I didn't comment on the Wade thing because when I wrote the post, he had just been born. I will address it next Sunday. Despite my empathy for Scarlett, I cannot imagine holding a newborn child (her first!) and not falling hopelessly in love with it. Many don't though, and I keep reminding myself she is only 17.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

You are reading one of my all-time favorite books and I love your comments on it! Yes, as great as the movie is, you don't really know Scarlett till you read the book. It is so much more nuanced!

Literate Housewife said...

That scene with Scarlet and Gerald is such a wonderful scene. You are further along than I am. I've just finished chapter one. Too much else getting in the way. Great first week review!