A Woman Called Fancy Should Be Called Foolish

On page two of A Woman Called Fancy, Frank Yerby tells us that Fancy is the first Williamson  in seven  generations to learn to read and write — and that she is entirely self taught.  If you can swallow that, you’ll think this novel is peachy keen.

Fancy is a raven-haired knockout with a bodice begging to be ripped. She flees her Carolina hills home in 1880 at the age of 19 rather than marry a 65-year-old farmer.

In Atlanta, Fancy is pursued by dastardly Duke Ellis, politician Jed Hawkins, and snake-oil salesman Wyche Weathers. Weathers gives her a job dancing in his sideshow.

Appearances to the contrary, Fancy is a woman of virtue, intellect, and moral purity, according to Yerby. She’s not over-strict about killing, but she draws the line at marrying without love.

Fancy loves temperamental, self-centered, arrogant Courtland Brantley, who also happens to be in love with his brother’s wife.  She sobers him up long enough to marry her.

When Court realizes there’s not a stitch ripped in Fancy’s bodice that he didn’t rip himself, he’s in jail for murder. Of course, Fancy fixes even that.

Poor Yerby has given readers Fancy, when they required Plausible.

A Woman Called Fancy
By Frank Yerby
Dial Press, 1951
340 pages
My grade C+

© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni

2016-01-09 Corrected first name of Fancy’s husband.

Gone with the Wind, But Not Forgotten or Forgettable

Who doesn’t know the plot of Gone with the Wind?

At 16, Scarlett O’Hara, a spoiled, selfish, headstrong daughter of a wealthy plantation owner is passionately in love with Ashley Wilkes, a refined, scholarly man with no passion at all. It takes the Civil War, Reconstruction and her third husband, Rhett Butler, to make her realize Ashley was never the man for her.

Margaret Mitchell has an organic approach to character development. She introduces each character’s general tendencies and then grows them situation by situation.

For example, any time she’s faced with an unpleasant situation, Scarlett says, “I think of it tomorrow.” Any time she’s in trouble, she runs home to Tara. So, when Rhett walks out, her response is totally characteristic.

Most of what I remembered of Gone with the Wind was from the movie: the burning of Atlanta, ripping down curtains to make a new dress. However, Margaret Mitchell’s novel is far more than a collection of vivid scenes and characters.

Mitchell’s prose flows. She varies her paragraph lengths so reading is easy. There is lots of dialogue. Despite the book’s whopping length, I read it easily in a day.

This well-written classic deserved the Pulitzer it won.

Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
MacMillan, 1936
1037 pages
#1 on the 1936 bestseller list
#1 on the 1937 bestseller list
Pulitzer Prize winner
My grade: A
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni