Scarlett O’Hara, of course, would be thrilled with the pride of place. But she’d also expect no less than to be the first.
Through the 1000 odd pages of one of the most famous books in history is woven a haunting story, of perhaps one of fiction’s most grey lead characters – Scarlett O’Hara to me was as detestable as she was mesmerising.
Now before I say anything else I must warn you that I’m one of those readers whose involvement with their characters borders on the obsessive (there! I’ve said it!). And as such there were times when I could almost slap Scarlett and yet my heart broke as her world came crashing down in an America torn apart by civil war.
She is selfish to the point of redefining the word; rarely does anything nice without counting the price and when she does it’s hard to trust her. She is spoilt and superficial and oh-so-easy to hate! But maybe her redeeming feature is that in spite or maybe because of it all she’s so real, her presence haunts you long after you put the book down.
And of course it’s supposed to be a love story. But when Rhett Butler finally enters the story … well, it’s a toss-up which one is more the villain. And yet theirs is a story most of us can’t help secretly yearning for and fragments of which have been retold through time in all of our lives. And of course the fact that Rhett Butler is fiction’s original bad boy is not something we’d ever complain about!
Now, I realise the picture painted by Margaret Mitchell of Civil War America might not be real but my honest reaction to most of it was ‘Hey! Nobody told me that!’ She tells a story of a South forced into war by the misplaced arrogance of the North and how the war did more harm than good to the steeped-in-traditions South as it lived life prosperous and happy. It’s usually a theme heard in stories that talk of imperialism and subjugation and definitely not a version of the war I’d heard before.
And after all the pain and heartbreak as the book finally winds to an end it still takes one last jab at my heart with an unfortunately true mark leaving me hoping for One more page…just one more! Because it just can’t end like this!