MARGARET MITCHELL AND JOHN MARSH by Marianne Walker

MARGARET MITCHELL AND JOHN MARSH

The Love Story Behind Gone With The Wind
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Perhaps it's only to be expected that the love story of John Marsh and Margaret Mitchell should be--at least as described here- -as romantic as the colossus it produced. Drawing on a cache of family letters and memorabilia, as well as on numerous interviews, Kentucky professor Walker exhaustively examines the loving 24-year marriage (begun in 1925) between two dissimilar but complementary figures. As she details Mitchell and Marsh's early lives, their first meeting, and their bumpy courtship--Mitchell married and divorced another man in the midst of it--Walker also shows that ``Marsh's deep attachment to Margaret Mitchell was pivotal to her work and life.'' A journalist and advertising man, Marsh provided the ``technical skills, the self- discipline or the confidence'' that transformed Mitchell's ideas into the completed manuscript of Gone with the Wind. Meanwhile, though deeply insecure and plagued by ailments both real and imagined, Mitchell had all the necessary ``fiery imagination, the hardy attachment to her environment and raw material'' that a writer needs. While Marsh worked long hours editing at night and on weekends, Mitchell, when well enough, wrote and researched the history. Marsh himself was often ill, and what's so dispiriting about the pair's story is that though Gone with the Wind brought them fame and tremendous fortune, it seems to have brought them little joy. Hounded by the press and public, the couple lived modestly and traveled rarely. The novel became a demanding incubus, the child they never had, as Mitchell dealt with correspondence and Marsh took charge of the business and legal sides--a full-time job in itself. A cautionary tale of excess--too much devotion, too much fame, and, here, occasionally too much detail--that's an informative and thoughtful addition to the ongoing saga of Gone With The Wind (which includes, for those more interested in Mitchell than Mitchell-Marsh, Darden Asbury Pyron's outstanding Southern Daughter, 1991). (Sixty photographs--not seen) (First printing of 25,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1993
ISBN: 1-56145-082-0
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Peachtree
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993