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Rhett Butler's People
on 3 April 2015
I’ve read ‘Gone With the Wind’ several times over the years, and recently read Donald McCaig’s book ‘Ruth’s Journey’, which is the tale of Mammy. In that book, Mammy’s story is told up to the time of the fateful barbecue at the Wilkes’ house, where war overtakes life. That book, and this are both authorised novels by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, so should remain true to the ‘Gone With the Wind’ story.
In this book, we read of Rhett Butler, but the book takes us through Rhett’s childhood, and through the years of the War and beyond. From the time of the War, we read much of the same tale as told in ‘Gone With the Wind’, but from Rhett’s experience, and from that of the other characters in GWTW whose tales were not told in full in that book. There is therefore a broader interpretation of the events of GWTW which is good in that it fills out the whole experience of that read. But it does suffer slightly in that the narrative becomes a bit fractured, and is not so coherent a read as either GWTW or the author’s other book, ‘Ruth’s Journey’. Rhett never emerges quite as a fully developed character, and his interactions with some of the other characters seem a little opaque and implied, rather than demonstrated.
I think if you had not read GWTW you would not enjoy this book so much, as there are nuances which relate to GWTW which are felt more fully in this book. So it acts well as an addition, if you like, to the story from which its heroes and villains are derived, but does not stand so well on its own. I really enjoyed the read, but I was not so enthralled by it as I was by ‘Ruth’s Journey’.