I used to carry around a notebook and write down quotes from books that I was reading. When I read some books, I felt like writing down quotes every other page, because there were so many great lines and thought-provoking passages. I still get annoyed when I’m flicking through a book, trying to find a passage that stood out to me, and I can’t find it!
If the only thing you know about Gone with the Wind is the line ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’, you’re missing out on a treat. A 1000-page, epic treat. Like many people, I only read the book after falling in love with the film. I remember watching different films with each of my parents as a child. With my dad, we watched The Great Escape, Fiddler on the Roof, Casablanca and lots of Laurel and Hardy. With my mum, we watched Gone with the Wind…and as the film was four hours long, there wasn’t much time for anything else. As a child, it’s difficult to identify with an adult sometimes, because they seem so different. I absolutely adored the heroine of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara, and perhaps it was because she was childish, loud, stubborn and wore flamboyant clothes. It wasn’t until later, when I read the book (which took me a long time, by the way!), that I really felt I understood her character. Literature and cinema are full of strong, male protagonists, and it’s so refreshing to find a female lead as full of life and as complex as Scarlett. Unlike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, she’s not sweet and innocent and she’s often not especially likeable, but if you let her character speak to you, then you see her tremendous willpower and physical strength, as well as her vulnerability and honesty.
This is an encounter from Margaret Mitchell’s wonderful book, when Rhett Butler proposes to Scarlett:
'I always intended having you, since the first day I saw you at Twelve Oaks when you threw that vase and swore and proved that you weren't a lady. I always intended having you, one way or another. But as you and Frank have made a little money, I know you'll never be driven to me again with any interesting propositions of loans and collaterals. So I see I'll have to marry you.'
'Rhett Butler, is this one of your vile jokes?'
'I bare my soul and you are suspicious! No, Scarlett, this is a bona fide honourable declaration. I admit that it's not in the best of taste, coming at this time, but I have a very good excuse for my lack of breeding. I'm going away to-morrow for a long time and fear that if I wait till I return you'll have married someone else with a little money. So I thought, why not me and my money? Really, Scarlett, I can't go all my life, waiting to catch you between husbands.'