Wow - a very long book!! OK -
Set in the American Civil War and its aftermath: 1861 - 1873. Follows the life of Scarlett O'Hara, daughter of a rich cotton planter and her trials and adventures once the war wipes out her wealth, lifestyle, and half her family and friends.
Scarlett is headstrong, selfish and courageous. She singlehandedly drags her family back to prosperity by breaking every code and custom she was ever taught. She thinks she's in love with her neighbour Ashley Wilkes, and pursues him relentlessly through four marriages (one of his and three of hers). She marries Ashley's wife's brother for spite, her sister's beau for money, and finally Rhett Butler for ... well, money, sex, love, fun ... Scarlett herself doesn't know why she marries Rhett. Of course we all know he loves her all through the book after he meets her in Chapter 1.
She keeps the family plantation going, starts a lumber business in Atlanta after the war, and makes a lot of money by doing whatever it takes. When she's desperate for money straight after the war she makes a nice dress out of some velvet curtains and goes to Rhett to sell herself to him for the money. (He refuses) She then lies about her sister to steal her beau and marries him for the money instead. She drives through a place she's been warned about and is attacked and causes the death of her husband who goes out to avenge the outrage. She shoots a 'Yankee' who breaks into her home.
Melanie, the girl who marries Ashley, is her only real friend but Scarlett's too thickheaded to realise until Melanie's dying. It's at this stage when she could finally have Ashley that she realises she doesn't want him after all and runs home to Rhett, who is packing to leave her. He has been traumatised by Scarlett's persistent rejection, her miscarriage which he felt he caused, and the death of their only child in a riding accident. She tells him she loves him, causing him to utter that most famous line, My dear, I don't give a damn - or as it is in the movie, Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.