Author- Margaret Mitchell
Pulitzer Prize winner
"Advice is the only thing I can give you at present. Listen to it, for it's good advice. When you are trying to get something out of a man, don't blurt it out as you did to me. Do try to be more subtle, more seductive. It gets better results. You used to know how, to perfection. But just now when you offered me your--er- collateral for my money you looked as hard as nails. I've seen eyes like yours above a dueling pistol twenty paces from me and they aren't a pleasant sight. They evoke no ardor in the male breast. That's no way to handle men, my dear. You are forgetting your early training."
"I do not need you to tell me how to behave," she said and wearily put on her bonnet. She wondered how he could jest so blithely with a rope about his neck and her pitiful circumstances before him. She did not even notice that his hands were jammed in his pockets in hard fists as if he were straining at his own impotence.
"Cheer up," he said, as she tied the bonnet strings. "You can come to my hanging and it will make you feel lots better. It'll even up all your old scores with me- even this one. And I'll mention you in my will."
"Thank you, but they may not hand you till its too late to pay the taxes," she said with a sudden malice that matched his own, and she meant it.
Reviewing this book is not an easy job as is the case with all classics. Its just not a book, its an era. Through the 1024 pages of the book you pass from a carefree, abundance, barbeques, balls through a period of war and poverty and terror to a Reconstruction period.
The story starts with the excitement about the war and the Southern confidence that they will wipe out the Yankees rapidly. The early upbringing of the main protagonist Scarlett O'Hara at the plantation Tara by her mother Ellen and her black Mammy. Scarlette is the belle of her town and is spoilt,arrogant and self-centred. It gives her a high to know that she is desired by all eligible men in the town and when Ashley Wilkes (who Scarlette thought was in love with her) decides to marry his cousin Melanie, Scarlette is confident that she can woo him back on the night of barbacue before his engagement is announced.
She confronts Ashley that evening and though he agrees that he did love Scarlett, he refuses to elope with her. In a heated arguement, Scarlette slaps Ashley and throws a vase which is highly unladylike and attracts the attention of Rhett Butler who was silent witness to her confession to Ashley.
Fearing humiliation of letting the whole town know of her rejection by Ashley and to avenge her insult, she married Charlie- Melanie's cousin. Charlie enlists for war and dies due to pneumonia while Scarlett is widowed and pregnant at the age of 16. She had no love for Charlie and now she has to live a life of his grieving widow with a son for whom she has no more affinity than for her dead husband.
Soon she leaves for Atlanta to live with Melanie while Ashley is on war. Atlanta gives her new hope and here she meets Rhett Butler again.
While all the southern men talk about winning, Rhett is practical and predicts that there is no way south can win. Rhett is a blockader and makes enough money out of it. He is an outcast in the well mannered South. Scarlett joins his rank soon enough, with her outspoken behavior and what starts is a chemistry between Rhett and Scarlett.
Rhett knows her to the bone and is with her without ever hinting at anything else from her. Scarlett is too busy being in love with Ashley ( although she wonders why Rhett doesn't desire her!) and wishes Melanie was dead. Melanie is too gentle and innocent to know the intentions of her sister-in-law.
Then starts the impoverished period of war and Scarlett battles through the tough times at the plantation and in the Reconstruction period she takes it upon her to make money out of mills (Highly condemned for her manly behavior). She does not hesitate to manipulate people if it means she will make money. She is a total practical bitch but with romantic ideas for Ashley.
You cannot help feeling sorry for Melanie who had undying belief and love for both Scarlett and Ashley. Ashley keeps the talk of honor to evade his feelings for Scarlette while Rhett denies loving her but does everything to make sure she has her way!
The book also speaks on the treatment of blacks. The hypocrisy of the war. The castes within the slaves and their attachment to the white families.
Rhett and Scarlett survive the tough times because they are ready to adapt to the changes while the rest are happy reminiscing the past and unfit to live in the changing times..
You need to read the book to experience it for yourself when I say you live in another era for that time when you read it :)