The book is a romantic novel that follows the adventures of Scarlett O'Hara, the pretty but pampered daughter of a wealthy plantation owner in Atlanta. The book begins with the announcement of the engagement of Ashley Wilkes, Scarlett's neighbour and infatuation, to his cousin Melanie thereby prompting the wilful Scarlett to declare her feelings to Ashley, who though similarly infatuated with the vivacious Miss O'Hara, refuses her proposal on grounds of clashing natures. This confession of ardour is overheard by Rhett Butler, a gentleman with a reputation for unconventional behaviour. This marks the beginning of their relationship and development of Rhett's feelings for Scarlett. The narrative follows the protagonist through the various stages of the Civil War and the hardships that follow. As she matures and learns to curb her impulses, thereby developing in maturity and experience, Scarlett is yet ever more desirous of the one prize she cannot have: Ashley Wilkes. She callously ignores the deep and enduring love that Rhett has for her. She grows into responsibility and faces struggle, hardship and danger; in the face of a society undergoing sweeping changes; in trying to carve out a niche for the survival of her family and ideals. Ultimately she realises the true value of things and her hitherto unknown feelings for Rhett but by then it is too late...
The book is a chronicle of American high society during and after the American Civil War. An extremely well researched venture, it documents the ravages of war on a peaceful society and the post war resettlement as well as the birthing pains of a new social dynamic.
The writing style is simple and extremely free-flowing and lucidity. The narrative is in the third person with the point of view of the central protagonist. The characters are sketched simply and often stereotypically with little complexity or realism.
An extremely overrated book in my humble opinion. This is because apart from the descriptions of military tactics and societal conditions which are extremely well researched and for which it received the Pulitzer Prize, the book has little to offer in terms of plot or ideas. The story is tediously familiar: one of the protagonists 'toughening up' when faced with danger and 'dealing with odds'. None of the characters are life-like; instead they are vapid and one-dimensional, conforming to worn-out molds. Even the character of Rhett Butler, supposedly charismatic and kind is shoddily portrayed and more often than not surrounded by an aura of cheap thrill. Definitely not a book to gain something about, save an introduction to the Civil War.
Book Reviewed By Sayan Mukherjee
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