A Wannabe Scarlett

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I’ve been doing a little “research” for a book I’m currently writing (which I hope to be able to share more about next week).

The heroine in the story has always dreamed of being a real southern belle and is enthralled with all things related to Gone With the Wind, particularly Scarlett O’Hara.

I dug out my well-loved copy of Gone With the Wind. Can you tell it’s been read and re-read more than a few times?

I purchased The Complete Gone with the Wind Trivia Book by Pauline Bartel. This book has all the nitty gritty behind the scenes details you never would have even imagined happened. I’ve been thoroughly engrossed with the book. It starts before Margaret Mitchell finished writing Gone With the Wind and goes through the highly-criticized sequel. It follows the lives of the movie stars, various events through the years, and finishes with several memorable quotes. If you are a Gone With the Wind fan, I highly recommend it.

The other book I purchased recently is the Gone With the Wind cookbook. Oh, my goodness! This little hardbound book is such fun. It’s a reproduction of a 48-page softcover book that was released in 1940 by Pebeco Toothpaste as an advertising premium. I can imagine, with Gone With the Wind mania sweeping the country, that they probably sold a lot of toothpaste during the promotion.  The book contains a lively assortment of southern cooking recipes. Some of them have names like Melanie’s Sweet Potato Pie or Aunt PittyPat’s Cream Scones.

Admittedly, it wasn’t hard to delve into a character who would love to:

  1. Channel Scarlett, even for one day
  2. Dress like Scarlett, even for one day
  3. Immerse herself in the romanticized version of Scarlett’s life, just for one day

Because I would be ecstatic to join my character in any one of those things.

Although I haven’t given Gone With the Wind much thought in recent months, the moment I cracked open Margaret Mitchell’s classic, it was like being sixteen again, lost in the world of beautiful plantations and elaborate gowns and handsome beaux.

As a girl, I tended to skim past the parts about war and slavery because at the heart of the story was the most wonderfully tragic romance. A woman who thinks she’s in love with a man who loves his wife but also harbors feelings for the woman… all while a man loves that woman beyond reason. Oh, to have someone love me as fiercely as Rhett loved Scarlett! (Insert sigh of teenage longing)

The first time I saw the movie, I wanted Scarlett’s wardrobe.

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The opening scene with Scarlett in this flounced white dress, made my girlish heart pitter patter (and it still does).

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But it was the “barbecue” dress that truly captured my interest. In the days before I discovered pizza and chocolate and possessed a waist that could have fit into the dress, I loved the color, I loved the style, I loved everything about it. And I love the scene where Scarlett and Mammy argue about her wearing the dress. That unwavering determination was something to be admired (even if she was headstrong and ornery).

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And while there were many, many gorgeous outfits to secretly pine after, it was more than just the clothes that made Scarlett so fascinating.

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It was her. With just the slightest lift of an eyebrow, her look could convey a whole conversation’s worth of words.

Sure, Scarlett was selfish, self-centered, calculating, and sometimes cruel. She tossed society’s rules back in their faces, and, as Rhett told her, she was no lady… but there was something about her. Something about her story that has captured millions of people worldwide since the story first released in 1936.

The more I delve into these books and my own story, the more I find myself thinking about Scarlett and her creator. Part of me wonders if the fascination with Gone With the Wind  comes from the fact we are all still waiting for Scarlett and Rhett to get their happy ever after.

How about you? Are you a Gone With the Wind fan? Feel free to share your thoughts or memories today!

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