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
- 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.