My love affair with Scarlett O’Hara

Hannah Betts in The Telegraph:

New Zealand Cousin Carol entered my life when I was a gauche eight-year-old, she a barely less gauche (being from NZ) 22. She stayed with my family at weekends, the two of us becoming unlikely room-mates. At her hands I was initiated in such feminine arcana as scouring my face off with a Buf-Puf (tick), giggling about boys (fail), and the merits of sexy underwear (happily then something of a pass). On one score, however, she proved the oracle. During one of our late-night conferences, she handed me a heavy tome, with a cover of a dancing girl in a jet crinoline. She was the most ravishing woman I had ever seen. “This is something you will need,” NZCC intoned, the weight of womanhood behind her. “Read it and you will understand why.” In one bound, I had been both Scarletted and Viviened.

…One learns that great love may be merely an idea – and a wrong idea, at that. Scarlett World exemplifies the principle that no one can rescue you but yourself: that life means taking responsibility for – then clawing one’s way out of – a series of monumental mistakes; tomorrow, as ever, being another day. Better be all woman than some sappy lady. Not all heroines are blonde. Charm is more important than beauty (as the novel’s opening line asserts: “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom noticed it when caught by her charm…”) Flirting can be a girl’s most powerful weapon, for which the right outfit is key, even when one has to drag down one’s late mother’s curtains. Bosoms may indeed be strategically bared before noon.

More here.