Gone with the Wind – Volume One

Matthew from A Guys Moleskine Notebook is hosting a Gone with the Wind read-along. In theory we are supposed to have finished the book this week, but I am a bit behind. I’ve just got to the end of volume one (p505/1011 in my copy) so I thought this half way stage was a great point to reflect on what I’ve read so far.

I am really enjoying it! Scarlett O’Hara has just become my favourite character from a book. I don’t like her all the time, but her flawed character is endearing, and I’m loving her gradual transformation from a spoilt child, into a hard-working woman. Scarlett’s attitude to her son is shocking at times, but I guess that this was not uncommon in this period of history, as most children were brought up by a variety of people other than their mothers.

I’m finding the story very interesting. The plot is perfectly paced, and holds my attention throughout, despite it’s length. I can’t wait to discover what happens to Scarlett in the rest of the book!

My only criticism of the book is that it lacks detailed descriptions. This means that I am often unable to picture the places mentioned. I haven’t seen the film, and don’t know much about this period in history, so am probably in a different situation to most other readers. 

I found Tara Revisited amongst my stock, and so I decided to read it, to give myself a greater background knowledge of the time.




Tara Revisited gives a insight into what life was like for women during the war, but I found that it assumed a basic knowledge of the conflict, which I’m afraid I’m lacking. So, perhaps foolishly, I have also started reading Battle Cry of Freedom, which won the Pulitzer prize for non-fiction in 2003. This massive 950 page chunkster describes the complete history of the war, and so far I’ve found it very readable. You might not see many book reviews on this blog in the coming weeks, but you’ll be able to ask me anything about the civil war!

Chunkster Other

Gone with the Wind – Why I’m not attempting to keep up with everyone else!

Matthew from A Guys Moleskine Notebook is hosting a Gone with the Wind read-along. I have never read Gone with the Wind, or seen the film, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to attempt this 1000+ page chunkster.

The idea was to read 200 pages a week, starting on the 1st March. So in theory we should all be at around page 400 today. I’ve only made it to around page 150 – so I am well behind the group! I’ve decided that I am not  even going to attempt to catch up with everyone anymore because… (and this reason may seem strange to you)…I’m enjoying it too much!

I think Gone with the Wind may become one of my all time favourite books, so I want to savour ever sentence. Each page is crammed with information, and I want to absorb it all. This means that I can only read about 10 – 20 pages at a time, which in turn means that it may take me a month or two to finish it, but I don’t care – I’m enjoying it so much!

Chunkster Classics Recommended books

The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

2003 Paperback

The Moonstone was first published in 1868, and is considered to be the first detective novel ever written. Many people site The Moonstone as the longest piece of detective fiction in existence. I’m not an expert on this, but I do know that it took me a long time to read it! At 464 pages it only just classes as a chunkster, but I feel no guilt in counting it towards the Chunkster Challenge as the type was tiny!

The story takes place in an English country house, in which a rare diamond is stolen over night. The suspects are therefore limited, and a famous London detective is called in to investigate the crime.

The writing was easy to follow, but it was very dense, and so it was a slow read. For the majority of the book this wasn’t a bad thing, as I loved the descriptions, but there was a slow section in the middle, which I found hard to get through. It picked up towards the end though, and the it was very well plotted. I didn’t see any of the twists coming, and I liked the realism of it. There were also a lot of other issues raised during the book. SPOILER! Highlight text to read. I loved the beginning and ending in India, and the way Wilkie Collins challenged racial stereotypes by portraying the Indians as mysterious thieves, when they were the good ones all along.

I also found the opium factor interesting. I had no idea of it’s affects, and have since learnt that Wilkie Collins was writing from experience, as he had an opium habit.

I loved reading it so soon after The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher as I noticed all the similarities between the real murder at Road Hill and the theft of the moonstone. If you’ve read The Moonstone then it is worth having a look at this analysis – I found it very insightful. It contains lots of spoilers, so don’t click through if you’re interested in reading the book soon.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Moonstone. It was hard work at times, but well worth the effort. As it’s the first ever detective novel I can’t not recommend it, everyone should read it at some point!

Chunkster Richard and Judy Book Club

The 19th Wife – David Ebershoff

The 19th Wife is based around a polygamous Mormon sect. The book is split into two distinctive parts. The first begins in 1875 and follows Ann Eliza Young, the nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, the second Prophet of the Mormon Church. Unsatisfied with his treatment of her, she separates from him, and then leads a crusade to end polygamy in America.

The second is basically a murder mystery. Twenty-year-old Jordan discovers that his father has been murdered, and his mother is accused of shooting him. Jordan was expelled from the  Mormon sect at the age of fourteen, when he was discovered holding hands with one of his step-sisters. He returns to Utah to visit his mother in jail, and begins to uncover many secrets within his polygamous family.

Other than the theme of polygamy there was nothing to link the two stories; as the book is a whopping 606 pages long, I think that it could have benefited from being split in two separate books. The writing styles were very different, and I think they will appeal to different people. I much preferred the modern, murder mystery, as it had more pace and intrigue. The character of Jordan was well drawn, and I had lots of empathy for him. The ending was reasonably satisfying, and this section works well as a thriller with a twist.

I found the historical section to be quite dry, and by the end of the book I had lost interest in it. The large number of footnotes, and other historical references were distracting, and it was difficult to know which sections were factually accurate, and which were fiction. The characters became lost in the data, and it became more like a text book than a novel.

Overall, there was a lot of interesting information about life within a polygamous family, but it lacked that special spark.

Chunkster Other

The Chunkster Challenge

I love reading long books – they tend to have more depth, and a more interesting plot, so this is a great challenge for me.
The rules for the Chunkster Challenge are:
*A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature (fiction or nonfiction) Don’t complain folks, I read all thousands of pages of the Twilight series and they were good, but not a challenge. A chunkster should be a challenge. 
*If you read large type books your book will need to be 525 pages or more I asked around and  the average LT book is 10-15% longer or more so I think that was a fair estimate.
*No Audio books in the chunksterIt just doesn’t seem right. Words on paper for this one folks.
* You may start any time after signing up. You must complete your reads before or on Nov 15th.
*Short Stories and Essay collections will not be counted. 
*Books may crossover with other challenges (see option 4 for a collaborative effort with TBR challenge)
*Only option 4 requires that you make a set list of books to complete the challenge
Those are the basics. Here are your options:
*The Chubby Chunkster – this option is for the reader who has a large tome or two to read, but really doesn’t want to commit to more than that. 2 books is all you need to finish this challenge. 
*Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? – this option is for the slightly heavier reader who wants to commit to 3-5 Chunksters over the next ten months.
*Mor-book-ly Obese – This is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to 6 or more chunksters OR three tomes of 750 pages or more. You know you want to…..go on and give in to your cravings.
 And lastly, in an intriguing collaboration with the wildly popular Miz B of the TBR Challenge we have:
*Too Big To Ignore Anymore – this option is for those chunksters on your TBR list. You may select any number of books over 450 pages but you must LIST THEM to complete the challenge and they must be on your TBR list as well (honor code folk, I don’t have time to be the challenge police)
I’m going to opt for the *Mor-book-ly Obese option, as I love chunksters, and this will encourage me to read more of them.
My Chunky Reads are:
The 19th Wife completed 5th Feb. 2009
The Moonstone completed 21st Feb. 2009
2000 - 2007 Booker Prize Chunkster

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood


‘The Blind Assassin’ won the Booker prize in 2000. It tells the tale of two sisters and the secrets that lead to one of them committing suicide.


This is the first book by Margaret Atwood that I have read. Reviews of her books always seem to be very positive, so I was expecting a good book. Unfortunately I was very disappointed. The plot was predictable and uninspiring. The characters had no special qualities, and came across as boring people. The writing was OK, but not particularly atmospheric. I was expecting much more, from a prize winning book by a critically acclaimed author.



Many reviews state that this is a hard book to get into, and confusing, as it skips around so much. I didn’t find this to be a problem, as there was a good read before the book skipped time frames (although perhaps I’m just comparing it to ‘Beloved’, which I read recently, and is very complicated) I also found it quite easy to get into. The book flowed along well throughout it’s 600+ pages, but at the end I felt let down. I’ll have forgotten about this book in a few days, as there was nothing special about it.


Very average.


Also reviewed by Belle of the Books, Care’s Online Book Club