I feel exhausted from lugging around a nearly 1000 page book with me for the last week. And since it is so large, my copy got a little more beat up than I usually treat my books, but I suppose I should just consider it "well-loved."
Well, where to begin. I already commented on the racism and historical aspects of the book. Truth be told, the era in which the story is set is one that as a history nerd, I'll never tire of. I love the American Civil War and circumstances surrounding it. It was my favorite unit to teach when I was teaching history.
Then, or course, are the characters. There are so many at first that it was almost difficult for me to keep them straight, but I eventually fell into the flow of life in Tara and Atlanta. I lived with these characters and took on their pain and struggles as if they were my own.
And I completely and totally fell in love with the epic sweep of the novel.
It is hard for me to express why I love it. A small part of me feels like I shouldn't-the novel is overly romantic and dramatic. Some scenes are over the top and excessive. And let's not forget that I really don't find much to admire in Scarlett O'Hara. But I love the other characters to the point that I kind of want to adopt them.
And lastly, there is Rhett Butler. Is he really a man that we, as readers, should fall in love with? At first I was not a fan of his attitude and the way he treated Scarlett. But then again, we don't get to really know him until the last section of the story. And it is hard to hate a man who would treat his daughter the way he did. You also can't forget his line,
"My dear, I don't give a damn," (957).
I seriously wanted to applaud him for finally standing up to her (Scarlett) and telling her that if she acted that way, there would be consequences.
In all, it is a book of epic everything. It captures the South in a way that I haven't seen in other novels (that I have read so far). It has that Southern feeling of grandeur and slowness. It takes its time to unfold and reveal itself as it wishes. It tells us how we should really feel and act in times of crisis as well as shows us a dark and haunting image of our nation's past.
Is it the best book I've ever read?
No, but I find it to be one of the best fictional portrayals of one of the darkest hours of America's history, and for that, I have to commend it, faults and all.
If you haven't read it yet, you must. While it has its faults, it is one of those books you need to read. Not because it is literary genius, but for the fact that it will make you reflect on your own life, your beliefs, and how you treat the people around you.