A few days ago, at long last, I finished reading Gone With the Wind, nearly 20 years after reading it for the first time (and if I remember correctly, I had not yet seen the movie at that point). I bought a new copy for the occasion, the 75th Anniversary Edition, which includes a preface written by Pat Conroy. Much of Conroy's take on this novel was also included in My Reading Life, which I recently read and blogged about.
What I didn't remember from reading it during the summer between the eighth and ninth grades was how detailed Mitchell is in her descriptions of Civil War battles and an Atlanta in her infancy. Most particularly, we get a much clearer picture of Scarlett's inner dialogue than in the movie, so I feel like I now know her better.
I visited the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown Atlanta again during my reading of this book. I've been before but not since it was renovated, and I'd recommend a visit by anyone who has read this book or enjoyed the movie (or, hopefully, both).
I felt properly prepared to embark on this reading journey thanks to Pat Conroy's assessment of the novel in the preface, a novel, he says, "shaped the South I grew up in more than any other book" and which "still glows and quivers with life."
It's been a couple of years since I watched the movie (probably this viewing), so this seems like a good time to watch it again.