Having been born an umpteenth generational Georgian, I have been a fan of GWTW since my first encounter with the movie at age fourteen. Of course I have read the novel, but wanted to add this audiobook to my collection of all things GWTW. I did however, hold my breath about hearing someone's idea of what Southeners are supposed to sound like. You would be surprised at how often it is done so tooth-grating awful a real Southener can't stand to listen, and there are some movies I just can't watch due to the butchering of our dialect. Linda Stephens not only got it right, but did a good job with the dozens of voices. Must have been quite a chore to get through the entire tome, but she did it well and never failed or sounded bored. It was a joy to listen to.
In the top ten percent.
Mammy. Hands Down. I liked her, because she showed so much love and compassion for the family for whom she worked -- generation after generation -- despite all their foibles, and despite the fact that she was, technically, a slave to them.
EVERYTHING. I don't think that I would have had the patience to read "Gone with the Wind" in print. Linda Stephens not only made this romance novel tolerable, she brought it to life. I would like to listen to more audiobooks narrated by Linda Stephens.
Mammy, again. She held the O'Hara family together. She saw to everyone's needs, and kept everyone in line.
"Gone with the Wind" definitely deserves its classic status. Even though I generally have no interest in romance novels, I listened to this one with rapt attention almost all the way through. At the end, it degenerates a bit into bodice-ripper territory; but, otherwise, Margaret Mitchell has left us a magnificent story, well-told. I most value her presentation of the Civil War from the South's point of view. All history should be taught in this way: through stories of the people who lived it. Mitchell shows us the OTHER side of the story -- particularly the War's effects on the black people. She shows us how Emancipation was initiated too fast, how the black people -- formerly enslaved, told what to do, and (ideally) looked after by their white masters -- were suddenly thrown into society with no education and no preparation. I never would have believed it before I listened to "Gone with the Wind," but Mitchell actually describes the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in a sympathetic way. If you have seen the movie, you will probably be envisioning Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, because he epitomized the part. Scarlett O'Hara annoyed me no end; but it speaks to Mitchell's skill that she made us care about Scarlett, despite her spoiled, shallow silliness. I recommend this audiobook to just about everyone ... even if you don't like romances, and even if you don't like history.
This was an absolute joy to listen to! The reader had such wonderful character voices that I could picture every moment in the book. I am so glad I listened to it before watching the movie.
I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.
Part of my youth, I read "GWTW" in high school in the 50's-a time when segregation still ruled, even 100 years after the civil war. It was a matter of discussion in my debate class-'should schools be segregated or integrated?' until the mid 60s when the civil rights movement finally brought it to the for front.
Of course I've seen the movie many times, but it was very abridged - the book is so much more and narrated so well that I found myself unable to pull myself away, even though I knew the story well.
I encourage young listeners who haven't experienced this iconic view of the civil war and the results to the white (and black) south post war. It's not only a novel, it's an educational experience in many ways.
Not being from the south, though I have friends who have moved north from southern climes,I found this book is an enlightening view of women's lives post war. Many current southern traditions have come down from those old days.
Read/listen once again to this wonderful novel of the old south. It'a long but well worth your time.
Listen to it-have your young adult children listen to it too. You might be surprised at how it affects you.
I kind of don't want to give this book 5 stars. I'm going to, because it was epic. Seriously, it's a really, really good read and Margaret Mitchell is a really, really good writer. She captures the feel of a generation that is lost and a bygone world and makes it real, pulsing with life and bittersweet memory and pride. Her characters are wonderfully vivid and complicated and conflicted, larger than life archetypes symbolizing the different elements of society each one represents. And the story is sweeping and grand. If you've seen the movie and thought it was gorgeous and epic, Hollywood only barely did justice to the source material. Gone With the Wind is deservedly one of the greatest Civil War novels ever written.
But... there is a really big "but" here:
"Here was the astonishing spectacle of half a nation attempting, at the point of bayonet, to force upon the other half the rule of negroes, many of them scarcely one generation out of the African jungles. The vote must be given to them but it must be denied to most of their former owners."
There are a few things that Hollywood rather prudently left out in the cinematic version, and one of them is the fact that every white male character joins the Klan to oppose Yankees and freedmen in the period of Reconstruction following the war. And this is described in approbatory terms by the narrative viewpoint. Indeed, throughout the book, Mitchell compares African-Americans to monkeys, apes, and children, describes slavery as a generally benevolent institution in which kind slave owners took care of their "darkies," and when the slaves are freed, society crumbles because black people are destructive children who can't function without white people telling them what to do. Reconstruction (in which the South learns that yes, you really aren't allowed to own slaves anymore and yes, you really did actually lose the war) is a horror beyond enduring, but we're meant to mourn the lost world of balls and barbecues attended by rich white plantation owners and their loyal, happy slaves.
Now, you may be saying, "Well, sure, the characters are racist, of course former Confederates are going to be racist." And that's true, I wouldn't have a problem with the characters being racist and flinging the n-word about. That's just historically accurate. But the authorial viewpoint makes it very clear that Margaret Mitchell shared the POV of her characters. Everything about the antebellum South (except its sexism, which is treated with satirical amusement and thoroughly lampooned by Scarlett in everything she does) is glorified and painted in a rosy hue. All sympathy is with rich white Southerners when Reconstruction destroys their world. Their former slaves? The author takes pains to describe how much happier and better off most of them were before being freed. Black characters are all offensive racial stereotypes who are constantly described (not by other characters, but in the narrative POV) as apes, monkeys, and children.
I don't think you have to be overly "politically correct" to find Gone With the Wind to be a hard book to get through at times, with really glaring evidence of the author's Southern sympathies and unquestioned racism.
And yet I'm giving it 5 stars. I suppose in the interests of political correctness I should knock off at least a star, but I have to be honest: I was just enthralled by this long, long novel from start to finish. Even while I was sometimes gritting my teeth at the racist descriptions and all the "Wah, wah, poor plantation owners, the Yankees took away all their slaves, life is so hard for them now!" I wanted the story to keep going and going. I wasn't bored for one moment.
The protagonists, of course, are what make this a timeless love story. Note that's "love story," not "romance," because there's very little romantic about Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Scarlett is an evil, conniving drama queen who if she had been raised in a society where women were actually allowed to do things would rule the world, but since she wasn't, she just learned to wrap the world around her finger and tell it to go to hell. She is absolutely the most self-centered character you will ever meet: in her mind, she is literally the center of the world. She sees nothing, understands nothing, and cares about nothing that isn't of direct and immediate importance to herself. And yet within her narrow, blindered view of the world, she's brilliant and adaptive and resourceful and unstoppable. The destruction of that glittering world of ball gowns and parties and negroes waiting on her hand and foot, in which she was raised to expect the world to revolve around her, is harrowingly depicted in her trials during the war and after it, and in her downright heroic accomplishments keeping not only herself but her extended family alive. Never mind that she never actually cares about anyone but herself, she does what has to be done, which is largely why her sister-in-law, poor Melanie Wilkes, believes until her dying day that Scarlett is a wonderful, noble, loving sister, even while the entire time Scarlett was hating her and coveting Melanie's husband Ashley.
Then there is Rhett Butler. The most brilliant Byronic rogue ever. Rhett kicks Heathcliff and Rochester's prissy white English arses and ascends to the top of the literary man-mountain as a first class scoundrel and anti-hero with a dark, brooding swoon-worthy heart. Because he's ruthlessly pragmatic and mercenary, smart enough to know right from the start that the South has started a fight it can't win, and he makes millions as a "speculator," enduring the wrath and hatred of his peers and gleefully, smugly giving them the finger, and yet in the end he goes off to be a hero. And survives, and becomes a (very, very rich) scoundrel again, and his reputation keeps going up and down throughout the book. He is the only man who is a match for Scarlett, because as he points out, they are so much alike. Like Scarlett, he's awesome and caddish and hateful and the best character ever.
Scarlett and Rhett's relationship is so much more tempestuous, conflicted, and compelling than in the movie. Every time they are together, it's like watching two grandmasters drawing knives and sparring. They were truly made for each other, they deserve each other, they could be happy together, and yet how could it end in anything but tears?
Oh yeah, I loved this book. Parts of it are so offensive, it will not bear scrutiny to modern sensibilities (it was pretty darn offensive when it was written, even if they did make a toned-down Hollywood movie based on it a few years later), and if you can't stand reading Mark Twain and all his uses of the n-word, then Gone With the Wind will probably make you want to throw the book against a wall (which will make a big dent, because this is a big book). But it is powerful and moving, the drama is grander than any epic fantasy doorstopper, the romance is hotter than anything I've ever read (I am not a romance fan and I don't usually describe romances as "hot," okay?), and the characters are fabulous and melodramatic and you care about every one of them, even (especially) the African-American characters, despite Mitchell's offensive treatment of them.
This is certainly not the only "problematic" book I've ever enjoyed, but never have I so enjoyed so problematic a book. If it weren't so damned racist, I'd give Gone With the Wind my highest recommendation. If it weren't so damned good, I could castigate it as a well-written but really offensive book whose author misused her gifts. But it's both, so I recommend it, but my recommendation comes with a big fat warning label.
Linda Stephens, as the narrator, truly does this book justice. For a book full of Southern characters with different regional accents, and with such strong characters of different races and genders, good narration is critical, and Stephens does a wonderful job, even with the flat, nasal Yankee accents. Her Scarlett and Rhett now sound more to me like the "real" ones than Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Absolutely a top-notch reading. So if you're looking for a long, long book to engage your attention for many hours, you can't go wrong here (keeping all the above caveats in mind).
S. J. Swan
I've always loved this movie. I'd never read the book and assumed it was close to the movie. It isn't. It's so much better! The narator did a great job too. This audio book is 49+ hours, but totally worth it!
I have been wanting to read this book for years, never got around to it. I wanted to see the movie... never got to that either. When I found this Audiobook I finally got my opportunity to receive the story I had been searching for for so long.
What a great performance! Linda Stephens is wonderful in bringing to life that beautiful Georgia drawl, it literally wraps around your ears. The story is wonderful and well written but I truly believe the performance was what really brought it to life for me.
I'm sooo glad I didn't read the book or see the movie before this! I much preferred the images in my head supplemented by Linda's wonderful performance.
Must Listen again!!!
I have seen the movie multiple times, and read the book years ago, but this audio version is great. It was like I was listening to it for the first time as there was so much I must have missed in the past. The narration is excellent, she even does some singing which enhances the story. It is a long book, but very enjoyable. It really gave me more of an appreciation for what life was like in the south during the Civil War.
Gone With the Wind was the first book I read all the way through in high school 50 plus years ago. I couldn't put it down. When this book was chosen for my book club selection next month, I had mixed emotions because it was so long........now that I am finished with it,I wish it could have gone on and on. The reading was fabulous and the hours passes quickly. A friend said she skipped over all the verbiage as she read it again, but I am grateful I had listened to it as it put me right into the scenes.
I viewed the book completely different this time than when I was a teenager. Living and teaching high school in SC makes me understand the culture so much more. A real awakening. Thank you Audible!
Although Scarlet is a pretty shallow person, this book is anything but. Some people have criticized it because it is racially biased. Well, duh! It is set in Georgia in the 1860s and beyond, about the most racially biased time and place in history. If it were written any other way, it would not be true to the times, and not worth reading. If you can't handle reading about things the way they were, don't read the book.
I think Mitchell handled the white vs. black problem extremely well. I came away from this book having a profound respect for many of the black characters, and disgust for many of the whites. But then, is that not life? There are good and bad black people, there are good and bad white people. There are dumb and evil blacks. There are dumb and evil whites. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It is called real life. But what Mitchell gave us was a glimpse into the mindset of the time, both black and white, both good and evil. And, like holding a mirror up to our own faces, if we look in depth, it is scary.
This is only one of the myriad lessons to be learned from this book. It is jam-packed from start to finish.
About Scarlet. I came to dislike her intensely when, as a mature woman, she continued to hold on to childish ideas that could destroy her life. But how rewarding to finally see her able to look in that mirror and see herself for what she was. What happened next? Does she get him back or doesn't she? I wouldn't dare say, but I do know that she would be strong and self-reliant, and with her new-found perspective on life, a lot more realistic, and perhaps a better mother. She is a survivor, and I admire that in anybody.
The narrator, Linda Stephans, is just fabulous. If you have listened to very many audio books, you know that the narrator can make or break it. Ms. Stephans certainly makes this audio book.