The original dysfunctional romance classic. Scarlett O’Hara, who is not beautiful, “but men seldom noticed that,” carries a torch for the somewhat limp, blond Dixie patriot, Ashley Wilkes. But Ashley doesn’t love her. He loves the fragile Southern belle, Melanie Hamilton, and, despite Scarlett’s scheming, marries her. Enter the dark, dangerous, traitorous Rhett Butler, a crueler, uglier man than the charming scoundrel Clark Gable plays in the movie. Rhett discovers Scarlett’s unrequited obsession and lusts for her, anyway. She despises Rhett but, after many twists and turns, winds up marrying him with disastrous consequences.

I’m way on Scarlett’s side. She’s not a man-eating bitch, she’s an amazing, resourceful survivor.

Such is the setup for this historical panorama set against the “War of Northern Aggression” (as a friend of mine from Georgia continues to call the Civil War) and the fall of the Old South.

Mitchell researched and wrote GWTW (as its millions of fans continue to call the book) over twenty years. She strove mightily to capture the tragedies of the war, the customs of the Old South, and the way people felt and spoke, especially the idiom of the African-American servant class (or slaves).

Ten years ago, proponents of politically correct speech took aim at GWTW and works by the great Mark Twain on the grounds that the language of those books was offensive and demeaning. The attack culminated with an African-American author writing a book from the POV of Scarlett’s chambermaid, entitled The Wind Done Gone.

I understand the deleterious effect of speech. In Summer of Love, my female characters in 1967 have a funny/not-so-funny consciousness-raising about the ubiquitous use of “chick” to refer to women. Feminists of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s weren’t concerned about getting their feelings hurt when some man referred to them as a stupid little bird. They were concerned about professional opportunity, money in the bank, respect, and power. (I find it ironic that grown women today accept being referred to as “chicks” and “girls” when sexism and male derogation of women is alive and unwell.)

But contemporary awareness of speech and the profound effects it has on contemporary social interactions should have no bearing on a work like GWTW. The novel is historical fiction, a product itself of the author’s time. (GWTW was a huge bestseller in the 1930s at the height of the last Great Depression.) No one can properly accuse Mitchell of prejudice or attempt to revise her scholarly efforts to depict what was without revising history. (Same for Twain.) And revising history, as we all should know from George Orwell’s 1984 and the real 1984s of our recent history, is the first step down the road to tyranny.

The heirs to the Mitchell Estate sued the author of The Wind Done Gone for copyright infringement. They won; the book was unpublished. As a free speech advocate, I’m not entirely in favor of that outcome. As a copyright protection advocate, though, I think the author should have invented her own Civil War chambermaid, mistress, and title instead of trying to capitalize on someone else’s intellectual property without permission.

So there you have it, my friend. GWTW is justifiably a classic because the writing, the characters, the drama, and the story stand up to the test of time. If you’re searching for a reading experience that’s a deeply felt portrait of a pivotal era in American history, this is for you.

From the author of The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, Summer of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle, and The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, forthcoming projects and more. And on my Facebook Author Page, on Amazon, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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More affordable titles for your reading enjoyment:

New Romantic Suspense! Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

New! Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle! Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. Meanwhile, as they begin a hot affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Coming soon! Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, which will include Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom, and Book 4: Terminus. The Omnibus Edition will include all three books.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

New Urban fantasy! The Garden of Abracadabra is available in three affordable installments. Begin with Book 1: Life’s Journey on Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

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Suspense! Don’t miss SHAKEN, my sexy thriller, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished worldwide. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Literary science fiction! And don’t miss TOMORROW’S CHILD, The Story That Sold To The Movies. This began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine as a lead story, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is now in development. On Nook, Kindle, and UK Kindle.

Thank you for your readership!