Monday, November 01, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 80

This is an ongoing series looking at books that influenced me as a fantasy author.

Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the WindI never saw the classic movie Gone With the Wind until I was in my late teens. But I had read the book. Of course I'd heard of the movie, and I had a vague idea that it was a romance tale set during the Civil War. But something drew me to it. Perhaps I picked up that it was an epic tale, or something similar.

Anyway, one day while walking through a book store while in my early teens, I decided it was time I learned what all the fuss was about. Being a guy, I didn't expect to find much to like, but I figured I give the novel a chance.

I'm glad I did.

Yes, at its heart, Gone With the Wind is a romance story, though some might consider it a tragedy since (SPOILER ALERT) the romance dies in the end, but I loved the story.

The characters were grand. The backdrop was ... well, it was epic, truth be told. The plotting was somewhat complex without being overly complicated. And it was pretty good writing.

So why should I shun a novel just because it's romance? Because I'm a guy? That's silly.

Especially considering, at least in my own opinion, this novel is so much more than just a romance. Believe me, as a form of education I've read a few romance novels. None of them come close to anything like Gone With the Wind.

No bodice ripping here. There a scream or two from the heroine, but they're at appropriate times. And what a heroine! Scarlett O'hara is no wilting violet waiting for a man to save the day. No, she has no problems standing up for herself, maybe too much at times. In fact, Scarlett's hard-headedness is one of the character's tragic flaws within the novel.

Okay, if you're one of those guy readers who thinks you could never pick up a romance novel, do yourself a favor and read Gone With the Wind. Though it's set in the American Civil War, you're not going to find page after page of descriptions of troop movements and battles and all that jazz. But you will find complex, interesting characters who are as real, as bold, and sometimes as weak as any found in the best literature of the world.

Up next: Depraved

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