Tag Archives: Scarlett O’Hara

Peggy Riley is Scarlett O’Hara

Gone with the Wind

Author and playwright Peggy Riley is originally from LA, but now resides on the North Kent coast. She has worked as a writer in residence at a young offenders’ prison, a festivals producer and a bookseller. She also runs workshops for writers. Her debut novel, the bleakly brilliant Amity and Sorrow, is about God, sex and farming, and hones in on three women on the run from the charismatic leader of a polygamous cult: one father, two daughters and 50 wives. Her filmic alter ego is Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. Eithne Farry

I am an old friend of sleeplessness, as sleep and I have a terrible relationship. I pursue it; it scorns me. We battle through the night until it completely overwhelms me with dark, heavy dreams it takes all day to shake. Turning myself right side over from a long-haul flight, my sleep is particularly strange. I long to be Sleeping Beauty, spindle-pricked and prince-waiting, dozing for a hundred years. I’d even take Snow White in her glass box of sleep, instead of being this Goldilocks, forever looking for the right bed, the right sleep.

Fairy tale princesses get a bad rap. Yesterday in a bookshop I heard a mother say she wouldn’t buy her daughter Sleeping Beauty, as ‘all she does is sleep’. I thought only ‘bliss’. Bring me a spinning wheel and some fairies – stat.

In seeking a heroine that hadn’t been drawn, my sleep-addled brain found another princess, one of America’s Civil War. Scarlett O’Hara is a handful of a character: vicious and fickle, spiteful and jealous. She takes what she wants and never wants what she gets. But she rides all the rough waves that surround her – war, poverty, the madness of parents, the death of a child, the loss of her many loves – with style and an evolving grace. She even survives the wearing of curtains. I have no doubt that when Rhett leaves her at the door, she shuts it and has a good night’s sleep. She is at peace with herself: after all, it is the needs and impulses she has that make her so compelling, so watchable. And I know that, refreshed of a morning, she simply mounts her horse and charges after him, makes him give a damn. Rhett Butler cannot resist Scarlett O’Hara and neither can I.

Peggy Riley

Scarlett Bailey is Scarlett O’Hara

Scarlett O'Hara

Scarlett Bailey has loved writing stories since childhood. Before writing her debut novel The Night before Christmas she worked as a waitress, cinema usherette and bookseller. Passionate about old movies, Scarlett loves nothing more than spending a wet Sunday afternoon watching her favourite films back to back with large quantities of chocolate. Her filmic Alter Ego is Scarlett O’Hara. EITHNE FARRY

Maybe it’s a little odd to want to be Scarlett O’Hara, manipulative, sociopathic, vain and cruel heroine of 1939 Victor Fleming epic Gone with the Wind. And yet for all of her faults, which are legion, Scarlett remains an iconic heroine, blazing a trail through adversity, against all the odds. Scarlett is a survivor and a fighter, with a nifty sideline in turning curtains into frocks, and I think that there aren’t many of us who don’t wish for at least some of those qualities at least once in our lives.

And it’s fair to say that Scarlett is not all bad. She’s a woman of character, who flourishes in a time of crisis, her troubles only making her stronger. Fiercely loyal to her love for Ashley, even when he chooses boring, nice and predictable Melanie, Scarlett never turns on him with stereotypical female vengeance, but continues fighting for him, as much as for herself, to the very end. Yes, she might marry out of spite or for money, might like kissing a certain Rhett Butler, while pining over Ashley, so addicted to wanting what she can’t have that she barely notices when her feelings for Rhett begin to change from lust to love. But when it comes to the crunch Scarlett is the one you want in your corner. She’s got the guts of steel to nurse the terrible wounds of the injured soldiers, when Melanie can’t. And she’s the only one who’ll stand by Melanie during the birth of hers and Ashley’s baby, getting her out of a burning Atlanta like Boudicca in her chariot. After facing so much adversity, who can blame Scarlett for vowing never to go hungry again and for doing whatever it takes to stay alive? It’s maybe a bit of a stretch to compare Civil War America with our current global economic crisis, but for those of us who make a living from our wits, right now is not at all a bad time to be a little bit like Scarlett O’Hara.

The Night before Christmas is published by Ebury Press.

Scarlett Bailey