Welcome to the Historical Fiction Online forums: a friendly place to discuss, review and discover historical fiction.
If this is your first visit, please be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above.
You will have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.
To start viewing posts, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

April 2011 BOTM: Gone with the Wind

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
Locked
User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Posts: 1649
Joined: May 2010
Location: California

Post by Michy » Mon April 11th, 2011, 5:33 pm

Another thing I'm appreciating more about GWTW this time around, is the depiction of the war itself. As a younger reader I was less interested in those parts of the novel. Although Mitchell doesn't go into detail about battle scenes, she does go into a fair amount of detail about the troop activity and overall battle strategy as the war drew nearer to Atlanta. She also does a fine job of describing the South's attitude towards the war, which seemed to be mostly self-delusional (which was necessary, I guess, for them to keep fighting). What has stood out to me are the conditions in the "hospitals" (when they ran out of cloth the women would take the bloody bandages home to wash and re-use. Ugh.), how private homes gradually became overtaken with wounded and sick soldiers, and her references to the POW camps, both Northern and Southern.

User avatar
MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3562
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon April 11th, 2011, 6:18 pm

Yes, I'm appreciating that aspect now, where as before, I just wanted to skip ahead to the relationship stuff. Mitchell does a great job of weaving it into her story. Probably more detail than today's action-movie-raised readers would prefer, but no serious 'information dumps' -- which is what any battlefield descriptions would amount to. She keeps it right where Scarlett is, telling about the clothing shortages, cornbread replacing white-flour products, and Gerald's stored cotton, which he can't sell, while he is hard-pressed to feed the people of Tara.

User avatar
Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 2440
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
Location: Catskill, New York, USA
Contact:

Post by Margaret » Mon April 11th, 2011, 6:56 pm

Yes, Mitchell was an exceptionally skillful writer in that regard, as with so many. A lot of current historical novelists could benefit from studying how she weaves the war news in with Scarlett's personal story. Readers get a very clear picture of the larger setting, but it never feels like a history lesson, because it's all so tightly focused on the character's lives. She's also very skillful in the way she shows the delusional grandiosity of the Southern approach to the war, generally by subtle implications, except when Rhett steps in with his clear-eyed and cynical intelligence to point out how inaccurately people are viewing things.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Posts: 1649
Joined: May 2010
Location: California

Post by Michy » Mon April 11th, 2011, 8:31 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Probably more detail than today's action-movie-raised readers would prefer[/quote] Yes, she is wordy -- she even admitted herself that she was verbose -- but for me, that is what makes the book such great reading.
and Gerald's stored cotton, which he can't sell, while he is hard-pressed to feed the people of Tara.
I just read that part, also -- I'm now where Melanie's about to have the baby -- so you and I must be in the same spot. I don't expect to get much reading time in the next couple of weeks, though, so you'll probably leave me in the dust. :)

Another thing that is standing out to me more this time are Scarlett's character flaws. I was always aware of them, of course (how could you not be?!) but they seem sharper and deeper to me now. It's kind of amazing, really, that Mitchell made her main character so unlikeable in so many ways, and yet we still love reading about her. I suppose that we all relate to Scarlett in some way, she speaks to our baser nature. Hopefully none of us are as unremittingly selfish, self-centered and hateful as she was most of the time, but we all have our moments. :o
Last edited by Michy on Mon April 11th, 2011, 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3751
Joined: September 2008
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Post by LoveHistory » Tue April 12th, 2011, 3:28 am

I'm actually finding Scarlett more sympathetic...in parts.

I was the same way about the battles the first time I read it (late teens/early twenties).

I seem to be ahead of some members but I do find it interesting that Scarlett has a brief thought about how disappointed her mother would be when she used the "n-word." I guess nice people didn't use it back then either, or nice ladies didn't.

User avatar
Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4233
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Tue April 12th, 2011, 8:16 am

I remember the parts about the war and the descriptions, which is one of the reasons why I've always said it's so much more than a romance. There's quite a lot to be learnt from reading this book and as it has the added interest of the love triangle, it makes it easier to take in.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

User avatar
LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3751
Joined: September 2008
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Post by LoveHistory » Tue April 12th, 2011, 1:53 pm

More like a love quadrangle really. But yes, so much more than a romance.

User avatar
Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Posts: 1346
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Tue April 12th, 2011, 3:41 pm

I wasn't sure how gripping the story would be the 2nd time around (and knowing the story as most of us do through the film), but I still found it very gripping -- esp the war section.

Civilians were confronted with foraging issues during that summer and fall as Sherman's troops marched through Georgia, but it's been my understanding that poorly provided for Confederate soldiers were as much of a problem as the Union Army. I wish I could remember where I read this -- and I'm not sure I can trust my memory -- but I thought Georgia actually had a good crop that year (but not enough workers to harvest it), which made the destruction of everything that could have been used to support the Confederate Army seem so much more of a loss. It's also my understanding that Jeff Davis and Georgia Governor Brown butted heads over Georgia's protection (e.g, Brown was a zealot for state's rights and wanted to keep more troops inside Georgia). It was not in Davis' plans to send any more troops to Georgia and many of them were sent elsewhere (such as Franklin, where Rhett went).
Last edited by Ludmilla on Tue April 12th, 2011, 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Posts: 1649
Joined: May 2010
Location: California

Post by Michy » Tue April 12th, 2011, 5:14 pm

[quote=""Ludmilla""]but it's been my understanding that poorly provided for Confederate soldiers were as much of a problem as the Union Army. [/quote] Mitchell mentions this -- speculators selling rotten food and poorly-constructed materials to the army. I found that particularly tragic and baffling (baffling in the sense that I don't know how a person could live with themselves, knowing that they were selling shoddy goods to the army that was fighting to defend their homeland and way of life. But I do tend to be idealistic :) ).

Lack of adequate food, clothing and ammunition for troops was also a huge problem in the Revolutionary War -- besides the fact that troops rarely got their pay.

User avatar
Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Posts: 1346
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Tue April 12th, 2011, 5:39 pm

This is why the value of a good quartermaster cannot be underestimated (same holds true for expeditions).

I would be interested in finding a book about those who fixed the infrastructure destroyed in the war, such as the railroads and telegraph lines. There were men right behind the armies working frantically to get the lines up and running again. The railroads made a huge difference in how supplies reached the army and war was fought. You really get a sense for this in Jeff Shaara's The Last Full Measure. It's amazing Lee's army lasted as long as did.

Locked

Return to “Feature of the Month”