Dialogue That Made Me Swoon


 Hi everyone.  Thea Devine here. It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that GWTW is among my favorite books.  I first read it when I was sixteen, and you can probably guess my teenaged reaction to the love story.  But, as I subsequently discovered, it’s wholly different book when you reread it when you‘re older (say, oh — thirty and forty), and as I did recently with my sister-in-law.  However there’s one thing in GWTW that never changes and that, for me, was always the whole key to anything about romance.

It’s the moment at Twelve Oaks before the picnic, when Scarlett — in the book — has just encountered Charles Hamilton on the staircase, and turns to see Rhett staring up her, and indignantly thinks, “he looks as if — as if he knows what I look like without my shimmy.” (sic — my edition).

I love that moment. I always thought it went beyond prurience, that he was not envisioning her naked, he was not thinking sex; rather he was seeing her whole, her beauty, her vanity, her greed, her flaws and phony flirtatiousness, and everything about her right there that made her “her” — and he decided in that moment, he wanted her, that he loved her.  Not just the body, but the whole person, just as she was.

Don’t we all?  Want the  guy who wants us just as we are?  Without lists, demands, requirements must-haves, guarantees?.  Don’t we want to say to him, “I love you,” and have him respond, as does Han Solo in a critical moment to Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, “I know.”

Oh, be still my heart.  That he knew in his deepest core that she loved him.  That acknowledgement was more than him saying “I love you.”  It said that he’d always known and everything he’d ever done was colored by that, in spite of the bickering, the clashes, in spite of everything.

I love that.  Who wouldn’t love that?  But even better — a moment on House:  you can quibble about whether House and Cuddy belonged together (and I will, because I didn’t think they did), but when he said to her in a last year’s episode, “I always want to kiss you,” —   I melted into a puddle of swoon.  Always .. Are you imagining that?  Always … God, I wish I’d written that line.  Think what means. Always …

But then, I’m hopeless romantic. I love love.  I love being in love.  I think love is forever, in spite of all the recent public and humiliating break-ups in the news. I think those moments above expressed in dialogue are at the heart of romance — and that we all yearn for that deep visceral knowledge of the other person that transcends everything but the need and desire to be together because …

Because we love — and they know.   Always …

Do you have a favorite line of dialogue?  Or something amazing your husband ever said to you?  Or something else that made you swoon …?

Thea Devine is the author of twenty-five historical and contemporary novels and a dozen novellas.  She was honored as a Romance Pioneer by Romantic Times. She’s currently working on a sequel to her June 2011 release, The Darkest Heart.


11 thoughts on “Dialogue That Made Me Swoon”

  1. You make such a great point, Thea. Aside from the brilliance of GWTW, that is. I love discovering lines of dialogue that really capture the essence of a character, a theme, or a story. They are as rare as gems, and show the true artistry in wordcraft.

    As a fantasy buff, I can still remember the first time I read Tolkien’s The Two Towers. When Gandalf returned to his former master and said, “Sarumon, your staff is broken!” (as I recall) and pow! it shattered to pieces. Brilliant. A literal expression of the power of words. It’s not exactly poetry, but in the context of the story it captures the turning point, both in the storyline, and in Gandalf’s development as a character.

    It makes me wonder how long the greats like M. Mitchell or Tolkien toiled over the exact turn of phrase, or just the right word. I’d like to imagine that they just sat down, wrote it in a single draft, stretched their fingers and sent it off to their publisher. But there I go, off in fantasy again…

    Sorry for throwing wizards around so early in the morning, but thanks, again, for the great post!

    1. Hi Greg. I like to think great lines come organically from situations and conversation. It’s one of those things that make writing fiction so mystical. Margaret Mitchell may well have meant that line literally; but it’s dialogue into which you can read many things, and like your Tolkien turning point moment, it deepens the story and makes it all the more memorable…


  2. This is wonderful, Thea! Once again, you have managed to boil down the essence of true love.

    When I met my husband for the first time after we’d spent fifteen years apart and were married to other people, I asked him if he wanted to go for coffee. He said yes, but that I didn’t drink coffee, I drank tea. He proceeded to tell me about how I did this funny thing with my tea bag by not taking the paper off but wrapped the whole thing around the spoon. The fact that he remembered that detail was enough to make me swoon, but it got even better. When I asked him if we should wait for our divorces to be final (fate and destiny were hard at work in that we met up again while we were both in the throes of divorce), his reply was one of those swoonworthy perfectly romantic lines. He said, “I think we’ve been apart long enough.” He, as my mother would have said, is a “keeper.”

    1. Okay, that made me swoon. You can’t get more romantic than that. So many levels in that one sentence. I love it.


  3. I often tease McIrish that he doesn’t remember the moment we met as clearly as I do, and finally, he got fed up (20 years later, mind you) and said, “I don’t remember the details. I just remember that I fell in love.”

    Now come on. Is it any wonder I’m a romance writer? ; )

  4. My husband won me over with his unique charm. I used to go to his office hours so I could ask him deep important questions while staring at him with calf eyes. After the third week (and in my defense I was struggling very hard with the concept of utilitarianism) he said, “Oh, it’s you again.”

    The heart’s a funny thing.

    Thanks for the post, Thea.

  5. Hi Thea,
    I also love GWTW. I think when Rhett saw Scarlett that first time at Twelve Oaks, he did see HER … and in seeing her, he saw himself. He was a scroundral, and she was the female version of him. In that moment, he saw that. Rhett was the epitome of the bad boy .. and what woman doesn’t love the bad boy? And in the end, even Scarlett did. In Star Wars, I love the line when the Princess says to Han, You’re a scoundral. And he replies, Every woman needs a scoundal in her life. I don’t know about you, but I sure would be happy to take him.

  6. Wonderful post, again, Thea! After my husband and I had been dating for more than 3 years, I started to get, well, let’s say “cranky” about the lack of a marriage proposal. I was being particularly peevish, and he looked at me with his magnificent green eyes and said, “In my heart, I’m already married to you.” Well of course I melted, but the proposal didn’t come till a few months later, when we were traveling in Europe. We were at the top of the Klein Matterhorn in Switzerland, with the cold wind swirling the snow around us, when he got down on one knee and popped the question. We’ve been married for 17 years now, so I guess he’s also a keeper.

  7. Lovely post, Thea, and comments everybody else! I’m a GWTW fan myself…in fact I just read The Wind Done Gone yesterday, a parody about the life of the slaves on the farm. Very interesting book that launched me in a new direction (it’s been back-burnered until I finish my WIP). But I’m also a huge fan of romance. I love good romance novels and good romantic movies. Only You with Robert Downey Jr & Marissa Tomei, Music and Lyric with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, Wimbolden with Paul Bettney & Kirsten Dunst. And of course, my own life changing romance: when I was still in the throws of worry about my age and his, before we had even dated, my hubby said to me, “You are the one I want to marry.” Five years later we said, I do and this year is our tenth anniversary. And that’s why I haven’t written a romance. I need to fall in love with my hero and my eyes are full of my hubby. I think I might finally be ready to allow an imaginary man into my life…we’ll see as the year goes on.

    1. I love it when a guy says something indelible and forever. I’ve been married a way long time (as some of you know). My husband is still 24 to me.


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