Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Read in 2016 / Gone With The Wind

Going through my list of books read in 2016, I count 48 titles. Sounds about right. It happens that I forget to put some on the list; but I do usually end up with an end-of-the-year average of about one book per week. And some of the audio books were very long ones…

Some books I’ve read with the eyes and others as audio books; some in Swedish and some in English. Some have been charming new acquaintances - like the Mrs Hudson series by Martin Davies. With others I’ve seriously struggled – for example Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson. And (as already mentioned) some of the audio books I read lately were massive ones – like Bleak House by Charles Dickens (35h), The Mists of Avalon (51h) and – finished this morning! – Gone With The Wind (49h)…

[Some months ago, I joined Audible as member, and have been making good use - I think - of some of their bargain sales…]

Gone with the Wind Audiobook

Gone with the Wind

  • Written by: Margaret Mitchell
  • Narrated by: Linda Stephens
  • Length: 49 hrs and 7 mins

I remember first reading Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (first published in 1936 and a best-seller from start) back when I was in my mid/late teens (i.e. in the early 1970’s). I also know I watched the film the first time back then (at the cinema). I am not sure whether I saw the movie first  or read the book first. But I’m pretty sure I read the book twice, both times borrowed from the library in the town where I went to school in my teens (not from the small library in the village where I lived); because I still have a “physical” memory of the copy of the book, and even roughly where in the library it stood. It had a red library binding, was thick as a Bible, and also printed in the same way – with two columns on each page. (I had never seen that with a novel before – and also not very many times since!)

As most readers of my blog probably know, the story is set in the southern United States in the state of Georgia during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and the Reconstruction Era following. If you want to refresh your memory of the plot further, you can check out the Wikipedia article.

Since I first read it (40+ years ago), I’ve seen the movie again a couple of times, but haven’t reread the book – until now. Sometimes it’s an odd experience rereading a book after such a long time. In my memory, I recall the novel as “romantic”. But what struck me when listening to it now was its realism. The characters certainly have their romantic dreams (don’t we all?), but they are also to a very high degree stripped of their individual youthful illusions in the course of the story. And what stands out for me now is more what I perceive as a high degree of realism in the descriptions of the horrors of war, the compromises involved, and the struggle for people throughout life to rebuild and adapt and change our lives according to circumstances more or less out of our control. And how now and again there are those defining moments and choices that perhaps more than others contribute to making us “who we are”… Both as individuals and society.

All in all, I found the novel well worth rereading. Reading it now also made me think about how the world has changed – and how I have changed myself – over these 40-something years.

14 comments:

  1. I stopped long enough to count the library books I borrowed through the year and it's a hundred and twelve and I read all of them. But man go from 252 four or five hundred pages. No huge ones average one book every 3 or 4 days. You said you struggled through one or two and if I'm struggling I just put it down and don't read it but you already knew that. Mine are fiction and an easy read. I saw the movie I've Gone with the Wind when it first came out and I did not like it because I thought Scarlett was very selfish so I never read the book but that said I might like the book better

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    1. Sandra, you're right about Scarlett. In many ways she's quite an infuriating character... But rereading the novel now, I think that's probably also kind of the "point". We expect heroines to be "good"; but Scarlett does not really fit that classic image of a heroine. And neither of the men she falls in love with is really the perfect hero either!

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  2. Your post was a very interesting read Monica. I saw the film when I was very young but recall nothing of it and have never read the book. I've had the DVD for some years but have still never watched it. Perhaps I should (because I'll never read the book).

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    1. Graham, I have the DVD too and I'm thinking of watching it again, quite soon, while I still have the novel fresh in memory.

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  3. You certainly read a lot. I doubt I could be still for that long.
    I know that when I re-read books I read when young I find that my attitudes have changed. My life experiences have changed the way I think about events too. The experience is new.
    I have great difficulty reading anything in small print or very long - even academic papers. If it does not grab me in the first two pages I rarely read any more. The book prizes I won as a school student remain unread, except for the one about flower arranging which shaped a huge chunk of my life. Maybe I'm stuck in the picture book zone.

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    1. Louise, there are two major advantages with audio books: 1/ You don't have to sit still to read them. 2/ If you do need to sit/lie still a lot, and/or your eyes also get tired easily, you can still read by listening instead. :)

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  4. I love reading this review from YOUR viewpoint! And you have gone rather beyond the surface interpretation to the core of the matter. Romantic? Yes. War story? Yes. And a smashing good story of the old south. But more than that, it is a story of people coming into themselves. Each person losing their innocence and being changed by experience. Wonderful review!

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    1. Thanks Ginny. You get what I was trying to say! :)

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  5. Snow tomorrow night! The first snow of the year.

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  6. Rereading a book many years later can be really eye-opening, can't it! Unlike my sister, who loved both the film and the book, I never got "into" the whole Gone With the Wind thing and must admit I have never read the book, just watched the film and found it... too long. I was in my teens then with probably a relatively short attention span!

    In 2016, I read 47 books (counting the reviews on my blog - but there were a few ones that I only started and were too awful to continue, or too short to count) - around 10 more than in 2015. That's due to the many more train trips I have been on since meeting O.K. :-)

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    1. It is indeed a long film - 3 hours 44 minutes, my DVD says. And yet that is a substantial condensation of the time it takes to read (or listen to) the book... I've decided to watch the film again soon to see how they compare.

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  7. Like GB I haven't read it. But unlike him I haven't even seen the film. It's one of those books that one seems to absorb the plot via osmosis over the years.

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    1. John: Or at least one may think that one has... ;) I have to say I was quite prepared to find it boring or hard to concentrate on as audio book now - but was pleasantly surprised to find it just the opposite.

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  8. When I read Gone With the Wind I was an adult and had already seen to movie. I was stuck with how different the book was from the movie and like you so much more than a romance. I liked it much better than the movie.

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