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Monday, June 27, 2011

What Makes A Good Book?

What is it in a book that makes it great? What makes a book a piece of literature we cannot put down? A good book keeps us up at night for just one more paragraph, one more page.
A good book engages us on so many levels. Our imagination soars as we see t he characters; the scenery; all come to life in our mind’s eye.
Let’s take a look at one of the greats.
Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The WindWhat is it about this book that makes it the page turner that it is? Truly, this is an immortal work, read by generations. Translated to film it is one of the most popular movies Hollywood has produced.
Clearly, Mitchell’s command of plot and structure develop an unforgettable tale, but it is in her characters that Mitchell traps us and holds our interest. Rich, full characters draw us in. A book can have a wonderful plot, but without engaging characters it will fail.
Just look at Scarlet O’Hara. Spoiled; wealthy debutant, who’s surprising strength and determination are the jewel of this novel. Not one thing that happened to Scarlet fit within her idea of how her life should have been, but through craftiness and self preservation she prevailed over circumstances that were atrocious.
Rhett Butler, the scoundrel with a hidden heart is the other half of the character duo that enriches this wonderful novel. These characters are so very well developed that Hollywood had little to do but write a script and keep true to the overall story. Complex characters are tantamount to success in any novel.
The other aspect that is not only important but essential in any novel, whether it is an historical depiction or not, is research. It is obvious that Margaret Mitchell went through many hours of research for this book. She wrote this novel many years after the American Civil War, but the reader sees the homes, the soldiers, the battles and destruction as fresh as if they happened yesterday.
Margaret Mitchell’s fluent story telling and historical accuracy make Gone With The Wind one of those page turners that you just can’t put down.