Good Reading : October 2006
general fiction/character study word of mouth Winner of the QLD Premier’s Literary Award Fiction $24.95 The history of the conservation movement in Australia Non-ﬁction $34.95 From the author of Travels With My Angst Non-ﬁction $23.95 Good reading available now www.uqp.uq.edu.au An insider’s account of Afghanistan after the war Non-ﬁction $34.95 No one, least of all Margaret Mitchell herself, could have foreseen how the heroine of her epic Civil War novel would burn so brightly in the minds of millions of readers in the 70 years since Gone With the Wind was published. Yet to the young men who swar med around her, 16-year-old Scarlett O’Hara was the unquestioned jewel of the sprawlin cotton plantation known as Tara. While no as pretty as the other young belles who paraded across Tara’s lawns, Scarlett’s vivid green eyes and coquettish ways lured men to her – all, of course, except the one she wanted, Ashley Wilkes. The pampered daughter of Ellen and Gerald O’Hara ‘found the road to ladyhood hard’, and could barely contain her reck- less energy and waspish tongue. But the paths open to women in the American South of the 1860s were few, so Scarlett ‘lear ned how to conceal from men a sharp intelligence beneath a face as sweet and bland as a baby’s’. Not everyone was fooled – especially the charismatic and scandalous buccaneer, Rhett Butler, who sensed a kindred spirit, chafing at the constraints of a genteel society that threatened to choke their independent spirits. As a man of independent (and ill-gotten) means, Rhett is free to flout convention and mock his detractors. But as a single woman in search of a well-bred suitor, Scarlett believes she cannot escape the role others have created for her. When the first shots of the American Civil War are fired in 1861, Scarlett cannot foresee that the world she loves will be set ablaze by the feared ‘bluecoat’ invaders from the North. Fleeing Atlanta with Rhett Butler (who abandons her at the last minute to fight ‘the Yankees’), Scarlett retreats to her beloved Tara, only to find her mother dead, her father mute with grief and the cotton fields bur ned by the marauding enemy. The destruction of the ‘old South’ forces her to discover untapped energies and trengths as she struggles to survive. Scarlett displays the ruthless tenacity nor mally xpected of Souther n men, who are now aumatised by war and the bitter after math f ‘Reconstruction’. At any other time, Scarlett O’Hara ould have been denounced by readers as an mmoral caricature. But in the mid-1930s, as e world lurched from the Great Depression the Second World War, Scarlett’s desperate ght resonated with readers who struggled to ld their own world together in the face of erwhelming forces beyond their control. Gone With the Wind won Mitchell the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, and the 1939 film version, star ring Clark Gable as Rhett and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett (who was originally called Pansy in the manuscript), became a classic that cemented Scarlett’s reputation as a character to be remembered down the ages. Frankly, we do give a damn. scarlet woman As a SCARLETT O’HARA fan, KEVIN PATRICK takes a look at the Southern belle immortalised by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell’s novel.