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Gone with the Wind ~ Check-in #1

Many of you have been wondering and asking about my goal of reading Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  I appreciate all the encouragement and support from all of you.  Until this week I had not made very much progress.  The copy I took out of the library was the Avon copy.  The print is so small that my 11pm eyes have trouble reading it.  Even the feel of the book in my hands is not right.  Call me crazy but there is something special about holding a book in your hands, something special about the smell when you walk into a book store, something special about the feel of a good book.  Needless to say this Avon copy is NOT working for me.

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My mother is one of the few who have jumped on the band wagon to read Gone with the Wind alongside of me.  The hard cover copy she took out of the library is just perfect!  It stays open to your page when you set it down, and the feel of the pages is so sleek and smooth.  On Monday we spent the afternoon at my parents’ house and she suggested I read from her copy while I was there.  What a difference a different copy, and uninterrupted reading time can make!  I went from being around page 80 (after a couple of weeks) to being around page 180 (in a matter of an afternoon)!  I have ordered my own copy of Gone with the Wind which will hopefully arrive soon and ease my reading stress!

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Now, about the book itself.  There were a few things that struck me right off the bat.  The first one being how much detail the book is written with.  In the opening paragraph this is how Scarlett is described:

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“It was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square jaw.

Here eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel,

starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends.

Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward,

cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin.”


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It seems to me that the descriptiveness of this book could go two ways: first it could create a wonderful image in your head, and second it could lead your mind to skip over so much of the detail in search of the meat.  I find that my mind seems split between these two.  Although, more often I think I am missing some of the details altogether.  As my friend Renata pointed out to me this past week, Scarlett’s waist size was 17 inches (the smallest in three counties) and she was 16 at the start of the book.  My mind noted that she was in her teens and that her waist was small, but not the specific numbers.  Just so we are all clear on that waist measurement, I measured my upper thigh and it measures 22 inches.  Thus, Scarlett’s waist was smaller than my thigh!  Nice! No wonder they often could not breathe and the women fainted so often!

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The second thing that seems to hit me in the face about this book is how different their lives are from my own.  Women were perceived as unintelligent and just overseers of the house/slaves/children.  They were not to concern themselves with books or talk of the war. The narrator notes that the man owns the property but the woman manages it; the man takes credit for managing the property, and the woman then “praise his cleverness.” While reading the descriptions of the clothes they wore I was reminded of this wire framed pumpkin costume I had as a child.  It was like a ball shaped rabbit cage covered in orange fabric that I bumped into walls with and could not sit down in.  Sounds kind of like the awful layers of hoops and petticoats they were stuck in.  I did however, like the sound of a mandatory nap time in the afternoon!  Couldn’t we all use a little of that in our lives?

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As I left the book, Scarlett was in Atlanta with her sister-in-law Melanie and her Aunt Pittypat.  They were all about to break the restrictions of mourning and help out with the hospital’s fund-raising bazaar.  If you stay tuned I will have more updates as I get farther into the book.  Please, if you have read the book, or are reading along with me, I encourage you to post your thoughts and insights in the comment box.  I would love to hear what others have to say about each of the sections as I touch on them.

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2 Comments

  1. Liz R
    Feb 18, 2010 @ 09:37:35

    Hey Heidi- I started reading the book on the way down here! I got my book for 5 bucks on half.com and it’s funny that i agree it’s hard to read since i’m still at the beginning and it’s so bulky! I’m not as far as you yet, but I love reading historical novels (a nerd trait I don’t often reveal!) and I do love the way she writes because I feel I get a full appreciation of the time, though having seen the movie, I have a pretty distinct image in my head! The hardest part for me is when the slaves talk, she writes in dialect, and I found myself having to read it aloud in order to understand what they’re saying! I’m hoping to get more in over the next couple of days here! Happy reading! 🙂

  2. Heidi
    Feb 18, 2010 @ 10:19:05

    Liz, thank you for the insight. I too enjoy historical novels. Although I lean more towards big old castles in foreign countries! One of my favorite authors is Catherine Gaskin, and she has written many books along those lines. Having not seen the movie I don’t have any pictures in my mind about Gone with the Wind. When I am done with the book I plan on watching the movie. I am guessing I will have plenty to compare and contrast between the two! My mom also found the slave dialect difficult to understand. I look forward to sharing this reading journey with you, although I suspect you will complete the book well before I will!

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