Friday, September 12, 2014

Heaven Has No Regrets

"We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence." --Joseph Roux
                When a close friend is posting subtle Facebook statuses about a big exciting secret, texting you to arrange a time to get together and talk, and dropping innuendos about how her life is about to change, the immediate assumption (at least, for me) is that she’s pregnant. I hadn’t seen Tessa in quite a while, and despite her adamant denials, I had every expectation that Tessa was about to reveal that she had a bun in the oven; in a way, she did…
                Substitute “book” for “bun” (or “baby”, I guess) and here we are.  I’m pretty sure I just stared at her for a solid 10 minutes after she revealed that she had written a book about Megan—It was 100% not anything I had imagined coming out of her mouth, and it took me a few minutes to recover from the shock.  Shock was swiftly replaced by excitement, and before we parted ways for the day, I asked her if I could possibly read it.  It was, after all, a book about two of my closest friends (herself being one of them), I am a periodic character in the book myself, AND I was designing the cover… all of which I thought gave ample reason for me to get an early glimpse!  Thankfully, Tessa agreed, and about a week later I had my first copy of “Heaven Has No Regrets” in my hands.
                    A handful of people have since asked me "what's the book about?" and I find myself at a loss for words, despite having read through two early drafts from cover to cover repeatedly.  Because it's sort of two books, in a way, that happen to come together into one really powerful story.  One one hand, it's a love letter to a childhood best friend, that one person that was always there and helped the writer survive the worst things that growing up had to offer.  On the other hand, it's a story of heart wrenching grief, and how struggling through desperate mourning lead the narrator to a realization of love, strength, peace, and life (and love) after death.
                "Heaven Has No Regrets" fluctuates between past and present in an obvious but somehow seamless way that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish.  The "past" sections detail the lives of two main characters, teenaged cousins and best friends from suburban Pennsylvania, each with their own difficulties and struggles.  The reader follows them over a period of a couple of years, through the lowest lows and the hilarious highs that their teenaged years provide, and sees how the bond that they have forged over the course of their lifetime has literally become their lifeline and means for survival.
        The "present" sections of the book follow a narrator through the immediate aftermath of horrendous loss.  It primarily recounts the narrator's experiences over the course of a handful of days, through the many recognizable stages that follow the death of a loved one-- denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance-- but in a tangible and gut-wrenching way that not only takes the reader along for the ride, but turns these very clinical grief stages into a very palpable, coherent journey that anyone having experienced any kind of loss can relate to and draw inspiration from.
        Knowing both Tessa AND Megan, the real-life people upon whom the book's main characters are based, I knew that reading this book would stir up a lot of feelings, both happy and sad.  I expected to laugh and to cry, but what I did not expect was something that I hope many people will gain through reading this book-- I felt myself, after 11 years, finally begin to let go of my pain and really begin to accept the healing that I had denied myself out of guilt for living a life without her.  It's this feeling that I think any reader, even one with no relationship to the writer OR any of the book character's real-life counterparts, will be able to relate to, and to learn from, and will hopefully be able to draw inspiration from to begin their own healing process.  
         "Heaven Has No Regrets" is currently scheduled for release on Amazon in early October.  For more information, updates, and merchandise (including a journal inspired by the book and co-designed by yours truly!), visit

Friday, July 18, 2014

Long Time, No Post....

So after I took an indefinite break from my classics reviews, I also took a long break from my blog.  Obviously.  Mostly because life got a little busy, partially because I felt like updating Facebook would suffice, and partially because I rarely feel like I have anything worth sharing.

Now, however, I stepped up my game... I now have TWO blogs!  I'm going to keep updating this one periodically, but I'm also going to have one for my craft / shop related stuff (  I may occasionally post something to both places if it seems relevant, but typically I think a post will apply to one blog or the other, not to both at the same time.

Feels good to be back.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book 19- "The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses" by Robert Louis Stevenson

I hated "Treasure Island."

It's one of those books they make you read in school, simply because they've been making kids read it in school for so many years they've forgotten other books exist. Or at least that's my theory. Not all of us like pirate stories. I'm interested in pirates in the historical aspect; I like reading about actual pirates, but when it comes to pirate fiction, my interest begins and ends with Jack Sparrow. Eccentric, always tipsy, played by one of my favorite actors of all time... he's a pirate I can get interested in.

That said, Robert Louis Stevenson is one of those classic writers whose name is too well known to ignore. Which is how I ended up choosing another of his books, "The Black Arrow," to read. (I also chose "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", which I have not gotten to yet.)

"The Black Arrow" takes place during the War of the Roses (google it) in England. The atmosphere is tense and militant, and the call goes out for all able-bodied men to gather to join the fight. In the midst of all of this, a letter signed "John Amend-All" declares that four men will be killed with four black arrows, payment for crimes they committed and covered up. The letter specifically mentions the murder of Sir Harry Shelton, which is critical because Shelton's son Dick is a ward of Sir Daniel Brackley, one of the men accused in the letter of Shelton's murder. Though at first Dick refuses to believe that Brackley and the other 3 men are involved in his father's death, the letter awakens an interest in discovering what really DID happen to his dad.

On the way back from delivering a message for Brackley, Dick stumbles upon a boy who introduces himself as John Matcham, who had been kidnapped by Brackley and is now fleeing in search of safety. Dick agrees to help the boy get to his destination, and along the way John tries to convince Dick that Sir Daniel Brackley is not a good person and that Dick should turn against him. John also tries to talk Dick into pursuing the truth about Brackley's role in his father's murder. Dick is resistant, but when the two are eventually captured by Brackley and returned to his home, Sir Daniel's behavior combined with his evasion of questions regarding the murder convince Dick that Brackley was involved after all.

At this point, Dick realizes that his life is in danger and that he needs to escape; he also finds out that "John" is actually Joanna Sedley, an orphaned heiress from a neighboring estate. He falls in love with Joanna, and together they try to escape; Dick succeeds, but Joanna is caught and remains Sir Daniel's captive.

Dick ends up fighting with "John Amend-All", who is actually a group of outlaws lead by Ellis Duckworth. Duckworth had become an outlaw when he was accused of murdering Sir Harry Shelton, and it is for that reason that he is seeking revenge. Another of the outlaws, Will Lawless, befriends Dick and joins him on his mission to rescue Joanna from Brackley.

There is a lot of action from this point to the end, but I won't spoil all the fun-- suffice it to say that this book is never boring, the life of Dick Shelton is lively but fraught with danger, and the Black Arrow outlaws keep things interesting.

I suspected early on that "John Matcham" was actually a girl; the boy-meets-boy-who-is-actually-a-girl-and-they-fall-in-love has been done so many times at this point that it wasn't a shock to me, although I'm not sure how surprising a plot twist it would have been in the late 19th century when it was written. The primary appeal of the book was all of the dangerous twists and turns that the plot takes; it's hard not to root for Dick Shelton, the troubled protagonist who is loyal to a fault and has a heart of gold.

Hard to say whether I'd recommend it or not; the language and sentence structure of the 19th century can be a bit difficult to muddle through, but the story leaves nothing to be desired; it's an exciting and enjoyable story. MUCH better, in my humble opinion, than Stevenson's much more renown "Treasure Island." Jim Hawkins' got nothing on Dick Shelton.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

JC and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

So does anyone remember the book this blog title is referencing? Good ol' Alexander? "I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."*

Oh Alexander. It only gets worse.

I've been thinking of today as my busy day for about a week now. Had to drop the dog off to get spayed, take Addison to school, do a little house-sitting check, pick Addison up from school, run home, change Addison into her ballet clothes, drop Addison off at ballet, pick her up from ballet 45 minutes later, try to squeeze in lunch, and pick the dog up from the vet. All while juggling not just Addison, but a rather crabby Owen as well. The mere thought of today started giving me nightmares on Friday. I hate busy days. Sure, I don't want to be stuck with nothing to do all day, but I hate not having a moment to think.

SO what else would make things more exciting? How about a car accident? Yep... that'll do.

Let me start from the beginning.

I got up this morning a little after 7:00, because my Grandma was scheduled to arrive at 7:30 (she was going to sit at the house while I took Zoey to the vet, so that I didn't have to get the kids up any earlier than usual.) Zoey had apparently figured out something was up, because she was all trembly at the vet (she's usually fine) and it broke my heart to let them walk away with her. I drove back home, thanked my Grandma, and got the kids up and ready, leaving at 8:45 to take Addison to school.

At about 8:58, driving down the street Addison's school is on, roughly two blocks up from the building, a girl on my left pulled out from a stop sign; apparently unaware that I was coming down the road, and despite my horn blaring, swerving, and general bitch-panic, there was no way to prevent hitting her.

I was instantly pissed and defensive. Partially because I think these days, being defensive is a natural reaction in these situations, and partially because being ticked off allows us to ignore the fact that we are, as adults, scared shitless. No one likes that feeling-- it's too vulnerable, a little embarrassing, and we tend to cover it up by being defensive and angry. Even to the most mild-mannered person, I think it's easier to be confrontational with a stranger we feel has wronged us than to be vulnerable and say "hey! You scared the crap out of me! I might cry soon!"

I checked on my kids, verified that everyone was okay, and pulled the van off to the side of the road. I grabbed my insurance card out of the glove compartment and opened the door. My defenses melted away when I got out of the car. The girl who caused the accident was already near tears, looked only about 18 or 19, and was already profusely apologetic. My maternal instincts kicked in and I felt like hugging her (I refrained.) We exchanged insurance information, but I called my insurance company to find out whether or not I had to call the police-- my instinct said yes, since there were no witnesses to the accident and I wanted someone to document that this accident wasn't my fault, but I think I just felt guilty calling the cops on this poor girl and wanted to be able to say "but Ron told me to!" Which is more or less what I did.

While I waited for the policeman to arrive, I texted my mom and my mother-in-law, informing them of the basic details ("was in accident, everyone ok, not my fault, police coming, will call later"). I called my husband and broke the news to him, letting him know I'd call after I had more information. I called Addison's school and let them know that she'd be late and why. I couldn't stand just sitting along the side of the road, idle... I even updated my facebook status.

Mr. Police came, took both of our statements, and started filling out his report. He took one look at the other driver's car and stated that it was good we had called, because her car could not be legally driven and had to be towed (Kia owners-- beware of Honda Odyssey's. Apparently minivans are the new schoolyard bullies. A sleeper cell of brutes.) After filling out his paperwork, he came and explained to me that although he doesn't determine fault, technically I had the right-of-way and the other driver could legally be cited for failing to remain at a stop until all traffic had passed. He told me he didn't HAVE to ticket her, but then said, in these words, "do you need to see me citing her for her traffic violation?"

What an odd question! I suppose if she had come out of her car, hurling insults, trying to throw blame on me and being generally belligerent, I could see maybe wanting to see her get a ticket. But under these circumstances? My answer was "if you don't HAVE to cite her, please don't. I don't want to make anything more difficult." He was satisfied with this, let me know that her violation would still be in the report, regardless, but said he wouldn't issue a ticket. He took some pictures of both cars, gave us copies of the information he had collected from both of us, and gave us instructions to call our insurance companies right away. The other driver took one last opportunity to apologize to me... what came out of my mouth (and I couldn't believe, considering it sounded very cliche, but it fit the moment) was "hey, it's ok... accidents happen."

Addison was 45 minutes late for school, but since I had called the school to let them know what happened, I fortunately didn't have to explain to the teachers, in front of 15 other 4 year olds, that we had just been in an accident. They were both very sweet, helped me get Addison quietly settled into the craft they were working on, and I left. I went to the mall and got a coffee, found an empty table in the food court (pretty easy right at 10 a.m.), busied Owen with a donut, and called my insurance company. Ron was very helpful and I got all of that stuff squared away pretty quickly. I called my husband, told him everything that had transpired, and then had a brief period of about 15 minutes of peace in which to drink my coffee and force the stress and emotions of the morning into the back of my psyche, to be dealt with later.

As I arrived back at the school, I got a call from the vet saying that Zoey's surgery "went well" but that she had a minor complication; apparently, a blood vessel had gotten nicked or somehow ended up bleeding, and the vet had to extend the incision in order to repair it. He assured me that the incision was still pretty small and should heal just as well, told me she was already standing up and wagging her tail, and that I could come get her between 4 and 6:30. So at least THAT was relatively uncomplicated.

I picked up Addison and was told that she had a "minor weeping period" but "came out of it ok" and that they chalked it up to stress from the morning. She was fine when I got her, though, and was excited to go to ballet-- we went home, got her dressed, and I dropped her off. While she was there, I did my house-sitting duties to kill time; again, being idle gives me too much time to think and too much time to let the stress sink in. I picked her up, listened to her stories of what they did, and took her home. We got home, ate lunch, and I sent both kids to their respective rooms for nap time. I went about cleaning everything up from the morning and kept myself busy until my mother-in-law (who had volunteered to sit with the kids while I picked up the dog) arrived-- I talked to her for awhile about the day's events and went to get my poor puppy.

When my husband got home, he made grumpy faces at the van's front bumper for a few minutes and then came in to change. The plan had been for all of us to drive to Carlisle for dinner, where my father-in-law was "working" at Bruster's as a fundraiser for the middle school he works at. After much deliberating, I opted to stay home to keep an eye on Zoey-- although mostly well, she was still groggy and sore and I didn't feel right throwing her in her crate and ditching her. I spent much of the time everyone was gone reading, cleaning up, and wishing I was getting ice cream.

It wasn't until very late this evening that I finally let everything soak in. I still don't 100% feel like I'm grasping all of what happened today; I tend to compartmentalize things, assuming that either they will take care of themselves, or I will tend to them later. I'm hoping this car situation is a little of column A, a little of column B... I've done all that I can, and now it's in the insurance companies' hands. All I can do is be thankful this day is over, grateful that no one was hurt, and hopeful that tomorrow will go a LOT more smoothly.

(*excerpt from "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst. Reference just in case someone decides to randomly sue me.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Addison's First Sales Pitch

Hello there, good to see you again! Addison Church here, and have I got a product for you!

I just started my 4-year-old year at nursery school, and we are selling the super-awesome "KidStuff Coupon Savings Book." It's only $25, and HALF of that money goes directly to our school! The proceeds from this coupon book will go toward the cost of supplies, activities, and other fun stuff for me and my classmates! The first time I looked through this amazing coupon book, I couldn't believe all of the incredible deals!

And it's not just kid stuff-- there are deals in this book for every member of the family, right down to your pets! Groceries, clothing, sports gear, activities, attractions... you name it, it's in this book! In today's tough economy, everyone can use coupons, am I right? Of course I am! Almost all of the coupons don't expire until December 2012... just THINK of all the money you can save between now and then!
Orders and money are due by October 10, so if you want to take advantage of this incredible offer (and you might just be crazy if you don't!) contact my Mommy at, or talk to the sales representative (aka friend or family member of mine) who forwarded this link to you. Act fast-- this is a deal you don't want to miss!

Here are just a few examples of some of the great deals offered in this coupon book:

Weis Markets- $5 off a $50 purchase (there are 4 of these!!)
Kohls- $10 off a $50 purchase
Rite Aid- $5 off a $25 purchase
Bon-Ton- $20 off a $75 purchase
Sears- $10 off a $50 purchase
Dicks Sporting Goods- $10 off a $50 purchase
Payless Shoes- 10% off your purchase
Childrens Place- 20% off a $50 or more purchase
Bed Bath and Beyond- 20% off a single item
Michaels- 40% off a single item (there are 2!)
Gymboree- 15% off of your purchase
Claires- $5 off a $20 purchase
Barnes & Noble- 15% off a single item
New York & Co.- $25 off a $75 purchase
FYE- 20% off 1 CD or DVD
Carters- 20% off a $40 or more purchase
Oshkosh- same as Carters
Build-a-Bear- $5 off a $25 purchase
LL Bean- $10 off a $50 purchase
Irvings Shoes- $5 off a $25 purchase
Regal Cinemas- $2 off Adult admission
Hershey Park- $8 off regular admission (up to 4 people)
Dutch Wonderland- $2 off regular admission
Baltimore Aquarium- $3 off admission, OR free kids admission with purchase of adult admission
Friendly's- Free Kids meal; $5 off $25 purchase
Sonic- Buy 1 Sonic Burger, get 1 free; $.99 Cherry Limeade
Hosses- $2 off Kids Meal
YP- 50% off Stromboli; 50% off large cheese pizza
Auntie Anne's- free pretzel with pretzel and drink purchase; free pretzel with purchase of 2 pretzels
Isaacs- Free kids meal with adult sandwich/large salad purchase
Ritas Italian Ice- Buy one get one Italian Ice or Gelati
TGI Fridays- $5 off a $20 purchase; Free appetizer with $20 food purchase; free kids meal with adult entree purchase

If you would like to view a coupon book, we would be happy to get one to you to look at-- just please don't wait until the last minute! Thank you so much!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Slightly discouraging change of plans

So I started off the year with a list of 52 classic novels I wanted to read, one for each week. I did pretty well for awhile, then got a little behind, and now have more than half the list left and only about 4 months to complete it. So despite my stubbornness and unwillingness to accept defeat in anything, I've decided that I need to extend my deadline. It's not the books that defeated me-- it's my life!

The first hitch in the plan occurred in February, where Owen's constant ear infections lead to a bout of C. Diff, and when we finally got that cleared up, the ear infections were back. So in early April, he had tubes put in his ears. Life got pretty much back to normal, but I was about 2 months behind on my book list at this point.

Still, I thought maybe if I devoted ALL of my minimal free time to reading, I could get caught up. I made some progress, but in about mid-June, my recurrent insomnia reappeared. So now although I have tons of free time, most of it occurs between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m., and my comprehension of what I'm reading would be severely impaired.

If I didn't have two kids, I'd have probably gotten through that list by now. As it stands, I have unread Stephen King, Jen Lancaster, and Laurie Notaro books because when I DO have time to read, I focus on my list of classics. Putting off things that give you pleasure because you are too stubborn to let go of an unimportant deadline seems a little ridiculous, right? (and downright insulting to Jen-- I've had her book since May!)

So that's that. Keep checking back for my classics summaries, but my new "deadline" for my list is mid-2012. Mostly so that I can stay sane.

A little bit about the rest of it... the insomnia, which I've struggled with off and on since late high school, is the worst it's ever been. I have sleep onset insomnia, which means that I have difficulty falling asleep. Not just difficulty-- I'm wide awake some days at 4 a.m. It stinks. Fortunately, I have children that sleep in, so I don't have to get up most days until after 10, but it's still wreaking havoc on the rest of my life. Play dates are fewer and further between because I have no energy, I've grown pretty dependent on my morning cup(s) of coffee to get me going, and I haven't been to church for most of the summer. I'm not missing out on time with my kids, but I'm missing out on everything else, which is tough.

I've tried "forcing" myself to go to bed earlier, and for an entire week at the beach I was in bed by 1 a.m. most nights... the problem with this is that even if I CAN successfully fall asleep, I wake up every hour. I never quite get the deep sleep that I'm desperately in need of. So staying up until 3 or 4, though it seems self-defeating, is actually better for me right now because at least then I sleep deeply. I don't wake up entirely refreshed, but it's better than the alternative.

When I was pregnant with Owen, the doctor prescribed Ambien to help me sleep; it worked. Knocked me out cold in about half an hour. But what I didn't like is that if I needed to get up in the middle of the night, the room would be spinning and my thoughts would be completely incoherent, even to myself. I'd often have "blackout" periods in my memory from the time the medicine started kicking in. It's not a feeling I'm comfortable with at this point, having two kids that periodically need me in the middle of the night. Even with Dan at home, I need to be able to take care of my kids.

So my plan is to try taking melatonin supplements-- melatonin is the hormone released by your body to help you fall asleep. If taken at the same time each evening, it should help regulate my sleeping/waking cycles and hopefully get me back on track. It might also make me groggy in the morning, but I'm already going through that so I'm not too concerned about that side effect :) With Addison going back to school and me needing to get up at 8 a.m. 4 days a week, ignoring my insomnia and wishing it away isn't an option anymore. Despite my reluctance to take anything for it, now is the time to try. And if it doesn't work, I may need to do something stronger, like taking the Ambien again. But I'm trying to start slowly.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book 18- "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell

After listening to my friend Beth rave about how much she enjoyed reading "Gone With the Wind," I thought I'd give it a whirl... it's one of the longest books on my list, and I figured there was no time like the present to get through one of the longer ones.

It. Was. AMAZING. And this from a girl who tries to avoid reading anything in which war is a central theme, because I somehow manage to find the theme of "life during a time of war" both boring AND upsetting. I averaged about 250 pages per night (a feat I am proud of, although struggling with insomnia gave me plenty of time to read...) but only read it about every 3rd night, despite my best intentions. So it took me almost two weeks to finish.

"Gone With the Wind" focuses on the life of Scarlett O'Hara, a girl born in Georgia to an Irishman and a true Southern gentlewoman. Scarlett takes more after her father than her mother-- she is headstrong, driven, and bossy, speaking her mind and doing more or less whatever she wants. She has all of the marriage-aged men in the county at her fingertips and leads all of them on, but the only one she has any real feelings for is a man named Ashley Wilkes. The story begins with a barbecue and ball at Ashley's family home, and when Scarlett discovers that it is also to celebrate Ashley's engagement to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, Scarlett devises a plan to convince Ashley to run away with her and elope. Which doesn't go as planned, despite Ashley's declaration of love to her. To make Ashley jealous, Scarlett accepts a marriage proposal from Melanie's brother, Charles. The only one besides Scarlett and Ashley who knows the truth of the encounter is Rhett Butler, a man who was visiting and has a tarnished reputation.

After marrying Charles, Scarlett becomes pregnant but is quickly widowed-- the war has begun, and Charles died in camp of pneumonia before seeing any actual "action." Never having loved him in the first place, Scarlett is more upset about the fact that she has to wear mourning clothes, stay inside, skip parties, and worst of all must ignore the attention of all other men, despite being only seventeen. This last proves to be the hardest "rule" to follow; Scarlett moves to Atlanta to live with Melanie (who is alone, since Ashley has gone off to war) and the Hamilton's Aunt Pittypat. In Atlanta, Scarlett is pushed by social duty to become a nurse to wounded soldiers, and being surrounded by men finally becomes too difficult; at a rally to raise money for the hospital, Rhett Butler appears, and knowing the true nature of Scarlett's heart, he forces her out into the public's eye and starts the rumor mill going. Once everyone already thinks Scarlett has broken the proper mourning decorum, she feels freed and begins regularly attending social functions and flirting with men. This lifestyle doesn't last long, however, as Atlanta is taken by the Yankee army and Scarlett is sent back, driven by fear and poverty, to the plantation home in which she grew up. Ashley had made Scarlett promise she would take care of Melanie and his soon-to-be-born son, and she kept her promise, taking Melanie with her out of Atlanta immediately after she gave birth, though childbirth had put her near death and slowed Scarlett's trip considerably. Rhett had helped Scarlett by stealing a near-dead horse and a cart, but abandoned them as soon as he was sure Scarlett would find her way so that he could join the Confederate forces for a last stand.

It is here that Scarlett changes; with the slaves freed, there is no one to work the fields, with no cotton, there is no money, and everyone in the county is starving. Scarlett works the fields herself while also managing the household, scavenging for food, and attending to Melanie and her newborn son; it is here that she loses sight of what she thinks of as being proper and ladylike, and she swears to do whatever it takes to never go hungry again.

Time passes, the war is lost, and taxes are due on the house which Scarlett cannot afford to pay. She hears that Rhett is somehow wealthy and living in Atlanta, so she goes to find him, hoping he will loan her the tax money; she finds him in jail, suspected of stealing money from the government. He tells her he cannot give her any money, for fear that the new Yankee government will find where he has stashed his cash and take it all, and tells her that he fears he will be put to death as an example. Panicked, Scarlett runs into her sister's beau, Frank Kennedy, and puts a plan into action-- she lies to him, telling him that her sister is marrying someone else, and quickly begins flirting with him, trying to get him to turn his attentions to her. Her plan works and she is very quickly married; Rhett is released from prison and seems amused to find that she married yet another man that she doesn't love.

Scarlett strong-arms Frank in his business dealings, insisting that the customers at his store that owe credit must settle their balances; she also borrows money from Rhett to purchase a lumber mill and to everyone's horror, insists on running the mill herself. She is so cutthroat and successful that she pays the loan back to Rhett in full and also buys another mill and builds a saloon, all things that are "unseemly" and do much to turn the women in town against her. Later, after finding that Melanie and Ashley intend to move north to start over, Scarlett manipulates Melanie into convincing Ashley to move back to Atlanta and take over half of one of Scarlett's mills; he doesn't want to, but caves to the will of the two women. Thus, Scarlett has everything she thinks she wants; close proximity to Ashley and lots of available money.

Scarlett continues running the mills herself, despite having to drive through a bad section of town every day; despite everyone's protests, she continues doing this even when she is pregnant with Frank's daughter, and even after their daughter is born. Things take a turn when Scarlett is attacked by one of the men in the bad part of town; it is here that it is discovered that Frank and Ashley are part of the local Ku Klux Klan, and Scarlett only finds out because the men have gone out and killed the men responsible for her attack. Frank is shot and killed, leaving Scarlett once again a widow, and Ashley is shot but survives. Rhett saves the day; though everyone had looked down upon him for his dealings with the Yankee government, it is these connections that help keep everyone out of jail and safe from execution. Upon finding Scarlett a widow again, he proposes marriage, and despite her determination never to marry again, she accepts. This seals her reputation with the other women in town-- they all think that she has no morals, no sense of loyalty, and no one will befriend her, with the exception of Melanie.

Her marriage to Rhett and what happens thereafter makes up the last 200 or so pages of the book, and I will leave the ending alone-- I'm still struggling a little with how I feel about the book's ending, so I won't unravel it and spoil it here. But rest assured, the ending was well worth all the pages leading up to it.

Scarlett is such an interesting character-- it's hard to like her, knowing how little she cares about everyone but herself (her children included), but it's hard not to like her considering what she went through and how she pulled herself out of it. In our time, Scarlett would easily have been a ruthless CEO of a multi-billion dollar company; in her time her work ethic and determination made her an outcast. Despite her deplorable motivations behind her first two marriages (and even her third, really... she basically marries Rhett because he's rich and he likes her), it's hard to read how the other women tore her down for remarrying after being widowed, because in our time no one would give a widowed seventeen year old any grief for remarrying (although might raise an eyebrow for being married at seventeen in the first place.) I'm still not 100% sure, 1000+ pages later, whether I like Scarlett or hate her, but she was certainly an interesting character to follow.

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read for pleasure; be warned, however, that it's length combined with the language of the time (and whole pages of spelled-out hard-to-understand talk from the slaves) make it a little bit of a labor of love to get through. But it is wholly worth the fight.