Gone With the Wind is classic on all counts. Margaret Mitchell captures everything that is romance, Southern, and timeless.
I read this book many years ago - I think the summer before my freshman year of high school. I absolutely loved it, and it immediately became my favorite book (and should have been my first clue that I would one day major in English Literature). That fall, our English teacher asked us on the first day of class to write a little about ourselves, including our favorite book. Of course I put Gone With the Wind. At the end of the year, our teacher handed us back our questionnaires, I guess as a way to show how we'd changed (although this was never expressly said). I was very interested in knowing what my teacher had thought about my favorite book being an "adult" book - nothing childish here! And lo and behold she had written a comment: "I assume you mean the movie."
That comment still irks me. Didn't I prove myself an avid, educated reader in her class? Wasn't it obvious that I knew the difference between the phrase "favorite book" and "favorite movie?" At that time, I hadn't even seen the movie (and even now I still think the book is better, and not that much longer). How dare she insult my intelligence and reading prowess! Needless to say, she wasn't my favorite (or best) teacher to begin with, but it still bothers me and I wish I would've gone up to her and corrected her mistake, but I didn't and really, what would it have gained me?
Gone With the Wind is still one of my all-time favorite books. And even though I don't have the patience at this time in my life to sit down and read it through word-for-word again, I often will long to just cozy up for a few hours and lose myself in Scarlett's world. Everything about this work screams "perfect" to me: the writing, the setting, the characters, the colorful descriptions. I fell in love with Rhett right alongside Scarlett (even if she didn't realize that's what it was) and I was devastated when she lost everything she had (more than once). She's the character you want to hate, but you can't help loving her for her determination and flair.
5 out of 5 stars, obviously, and maybe I'll even throw a sixth one in there for good measure.