There are many books I love, but ever since I read this topic, the only book which has shot into my consciousness is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.
A little bit of history about me and this book. My mother bought this book, when I was in class 4 or 5, saying I would definitely want to read this book at some point of time, and she might as well buy it now. At that age, the size of the book, 1000 pages and over, intimidated me. I remember reading the first line, Scarlett O Hara was not pretty, but men seldom noticed it. And the last line, Tomorrow is another day. And I wondered what was in the book.
For many years, the book was in the backburner. Then, for some reason, I decied that this would be the book I would read, right after I complete my last 10 std board exam. My english teacher mentioned this book again, making me want to pick it up then and there, but I was trying to practice restraint, and teach myself to deny gratification.
I was totally floored by the book. And I still dont know, why I was so floored. Yes Scarlett is an unconventional heroine, but I have read of more free spirited heroines, particularly Georgette Heyers heroines who are unconventional, but honest and well meaning, which Scarlett frequently is not. The love story has a unusual narrative arc, but frankly I never think of this book as a love story. Its definitely not an immortal love story, considering that the love runs its course over the pages of the book, and ends with a separation.
And even at that stage, I was somewhat uncomfortable with the way the book seemed to legitimize slavery. I realise that it was simply describing a point of time, and what people thought at that time, but even though I was drawn into the world and the description, this one aspect always created a point of minor conflict for me.
I think what resonated most for me was how for Scarlett suddenly the world she knew was gone, and how she repeatedly tries to make sense of the new worlds which emerge before her. She does it with a bull headed courage. Maybe, since I had just completed school, and starting college at that time, I empathized with the sudden rootlessness. Poor Scarlett has to cope with vastly more difficult and more changed circumstances than I had to in moving from school to college, but still, that is what connected me to her.