Read Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind by Marianne Walker Free Online
Book Title: Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind|
The author of the book: Marianne Walker
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1977 times
Reader ratings: 4.3
Edition: Peachtree Publishers
Date of issue: June 1st 2011
ISBN 13: 9781561456178
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.54 MB
Read full description of the books:
I knew I should have read the last few chapters of this biography first. I've just finished them, & now I'm sad, as I always am at the end of a biography.
This was a reread of the first book I ever read on Peggy. I loved this second read! This time I noticed that, perhaps even more than Peggy, the biography is about "J.R.M." -- John Robert Marsh, the name on the dedication page of Gone with the Wind. Peggy is such a firestorm I frankly hardly noticed him when I read this the first time, though he's on nearly every page. I was just reading a couple minutes ago, thinking that I've never really noticed his grave alongside Peggy's, when I visit. He's just there, beside her, quietly, as he must have been in life. I mean, I know he talked -- a lot. He seems like he was quite a talker, and quite a thinker. But when they were together, I imagine him just gazing at her in adoration, quietly enjoying his proximity.
On this read I found so much to admire about John, & I very much noticed him. His progressive ideas impressed me first of all, but I also loved his sudden philosophical turn after his first heart attack. He read Emerson! Self-Reliance. And he faced his recovery with courage and a series of letters to others about the importance of facing what comes with positive thoughts -- which actually gave me hope. I feel sad I never really noticed him before, but I have a feeling he would have wanted it that way. (For the spotlight to be on Peggy, I mean. Not because he was shy of light, but because she naturally attracted light, and he naturally loved the view.)
One of my two slight criticisms about the biography is that near the beginning, Marianne Walker describes a young Peggy as if Peggy actually was Scarlett, green eyes and all. I have read that Mitchell had brilliant blue eyes -- so brilliantly blue they were sometimes the first thing people noticed about her. So reading that her eyes were green felt off to me. Almost gimmicky, though perhaps Walker (or I) simply have our facts wrong.
Also, every now and then, Walker seemed a tad biased for John's comportment under strain, and against Peggy's. She would compare Peggy's attitude (for example, after John had a heart attack) to John's own, suggesting by implication that Peggy's was somehow amiss. I found this off-putting as it appeared to be an insertion of the biographer's feelings rather than plain facts. Peggy was never John, nor would he (I assume) have expected her to be John. He was, I think, a steadying force in her life. I think it likely (from what I've read) that her liveliness helped him be more spontaneous, and his steadiness helped her keep her head when she might otherwise have reacted emotionally. I think offering the facts sans the bias would have been a more palatable read.
I do very much like the way Walker explained Peggy's frequent references to illness as a trick Peggy had learned from her mother: a way to gracefully get some rest without offending anyone. But later in the biography, Walker would refer to this trick (paraphrased, as I was too absorbed in the read to mark specific passages) as the "tired old excuse." Again, this feels like a biased translation of a woman's life.
The thesis of the biography seems to be that John was an enormous support for Peggy, before, but especially after the publication of Gone with the Wind. The book begins when they met, follows their courtship (which was rather bumpy, as Peggy couldn't decide between John and his best friend), John's months-long bout with debilitating hiccups, their marriage, their early life together, the writing, the publication, the movie, the premiere of the movie, Peggy's Red Cross work during the Second World War, her sadness when the boat she'd christened was sunk and all the men were lost, John's massive heart attack, and the end of their lives. All of it is sprinkled with John and Peggy's letters. So, except when the biographer intrudes with a little bias, it almost feels like John and Peggy are telling the tale together. It is generally about their reactions to everything that happens to them -- reactions that often happened in their little apartment as they hunkered down hoping to avoid the onslaught of sudden fame.
I really, really, really enjoyed reading this! I'd say it's my favorite biography on Peggy. Despite what I perceive as a little bias (it seemed the biographer was on a bit of a crusade to make sure John got some limelight and recognition -- a respectable goal, I think), the book is intelligently written, highly approachable, and quite a joy to read.
Now I am going to go through a little Peggy withdrawal for a few days. No matter how many times I read a biography about her, I'm always shocked and sad when I get to the end and find out she didn't live forever. Thankfully, I am only halfway through my reread of Gone with the Wind. A few doses of that, & I'll remember that, after all, she did. Live forever. x
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