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Rhett Butler's People: The Authorized Novel based on Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind Paperback – October 7, 2014
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Fully authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate, Rhett Butler's People is the astonishing and long-awaited novel that parallels the Great American Novel, Gone With The Wind. Twelve years in the making, the publication of Rhett Butler's People marks a major and historic cultural event.
Through the storytelling mastery of award-winning writer Donald McCaig, the life and times of the dashing Rhett Butler unfolds. Through Rhett's eyes we meet the people who shaped his larger than life personality as it sprang from Margaret Mitchell's unforgettable pages: Langston Butler, Rhett's unyielding father; Rosemary his steadfast sister; Tunis Bonneau, Rhett's best friend and a onetime slave; Belle Watling, the woman for whom Rhett cared long before he met Scarlett O'Hara at Twelve Oaks Plantation, on the fateful eve of the Civil War.
Of course there is Scarlett. Katie Scarlett O'Hara, the headstrong, passionate woman whose life is inextricably entwined with Rhett's: more like him than she cares to admit; more in love with him than she'll ever know…
Brought to vivid and authentic life by the hand of a master, Rhett Butler's People fulfills the dreams of those whose imaginations have been indelibly marked by Gone With The Wind.
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“Rhett Butler's People covers the period from 1843 to 1874, nearly two decades more than are chronicled in Gone With the Wind. Readers will...get inside Rhett's head as he meets and courts Scarlett O'Hara in one of the most famous love affairs of all time.” ―The New York Times
“McCaig creates a convincing back story and has a real feel for men and the tensions between fathers, sons, friends and soldiers, as well as the nuances of Southern honor…The novel focuses on Rhett's point of view and explains exactly where he got his dash.” ―USA Today
“A must-read for Gone with the Wind fans.” ―People
“Rhett Butler's People broadens the canvas, giving Rhett new dueling and blockade-running adventures, and adding intriguing characters like Confederate cavalier-turned-Klansman Andrew Ravanel, a rancid version of Ashley Wilkes who romances Rhett's sister, Rosemary. McCaig paints a richer, darker panorama of a Civil War-era South, where poor whites seethe with resentment, and slavery and racism are brutal facts of life that an instinctive gentleman like Rhett can work around but not openly challenge. McCaig thus imparts a Faulknerian tone to the saga that sharpens Mitchell's critique of Southern nostalgia without losing the epic sweep and romantic pathos. The result is an engrossing update of Gone With the Wind that fans of the original will definitely give a damn about.” ―Publishers Weekly
“In McCaig's capable hands, Margaret Mitchell's mystery man is still handsome and daring but fitted with a plausible backstory and human frailties…” ―Roanoke Times
“Read with eloquence, charisma and a bit of spontaneity tossed by John Bedford Lloyd...With a profusion of drama, action, romance and tragedy, Lloyd gets it right every time and never fails to convey the underlying tension throughout.” ―PW, Starred Review
“McCaig is a bred-in-the bones storyteller.” ―Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks
“Different points of view…illuminate familiar scenes…Lloyd excels at accents and emotions.” ―AudioFile
“McCaig has taken on a monumental task in attempting to augment the mythology of such a well-loved story…While remaining largely faithful to Mitchell's framework, he has made the story of Butler his own.” ―The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
“In Gone With the Wind, Butler was mysterious, and that added to his allure. Here, we learn more about his background: about his harsh, unforgiving father; his long-suffering mother; his own wild ways. In some ways, this Rhett is a kinder, gentler sort than the one readers loved…” ―Tampa Tribune
“This astonishing novel parallels Gone with the Wind, adding new dimensions to the timeless love story.” ―Woodstock Sentinel-Review
From the Back Cover
"Renegade. Outcast. Rebel. Lover. Gambler. Southerner. A mystery..."
"Rhett Butler's People"""fulfills the dreams of those whose imaginations have been indelibly marked by America's greatest novel," Gone With The Wind." Here you'll meet Rhett as a boy, a free spirit who loved the marshes and tidewaters of the Low Country, and learn of the ruthlessness of Rhett's father, whose desire for control resulted in unspeakable. Through Rhett's eyes, you'll encounter those who shaped him in other ways: the Overseer's daughter, Belle Watling; Rosemary, Rhett's brave and determined sister; Tunis Bonneau, the son of freed slaves who understood the young Rhett like no one else; and Jack Ravanel, whose name became inextricably linked to heartbreak. And then there's Katie Scarlett O'Hara herself--the headstrong, passionate woman whose life is inextricably entwined with Rhett's: more like him than she cares to admit; more in love with him than either of them will ever know...
"Get inside Rhett's head as he meets and courts Scarlett in one of the most famous love affairs of all time..."--"The New York Times"
- Publisher : St. Martin's Griffin (October 7, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250065305
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250065308
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 1.35 x 8.34 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #71,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The Rhett of this book may be somewhat interesting, but the Scarlett is a shell of the woman Mitchell depicted. That might be forgiven, considering this is the story from Rhett's point of view. But apparently while Mitchell was depicting her leading man as taut with tension, fists balled in his pockets, aching with the impotence of the moment, most of the time he was just thinking "meh."
Most ridiculous is the decision to destroy the Melanie who couldn't conceive of dishonor in anyone she loved and transform her into a worldly woman who was in on the deceit, who knew Scarlett didn't give a rap about Charles and knew Ashley lusted for Scarlett. No matter ... Melanie coped by going on shopping sprees with Belle Watling. Good grief.
I'd offer more about the bizarre relationships that develop between Belle, Melanie, and Scarlett, but don't want to give away the ending for anyone else planning to read this comic re-imagining of the 19th-century Southern class system. The only people who could possibly give "Rhett Butler's People" five stars clearly never read "Gone With the Wind." I'm giving it two only as a nod to the author's willingness to portray the Klan as an evil force rather than benevolent neighborhood watch.
Some of the most boring, down to earth scenes and well written but the main events and the action events are glossed over and barely described leaving the reader a little confused about what has just happened.
The author writes about how Rhett Butler has a bastard son with Belle Watling, but then 3/4 through the book changes it to another minor character. But then goes back to having the boy be Rhett's son in all but name.
The main villain of the book believes to the end that Rhett killed his bad seed son decades before. Nobody seems to care to inform him that the son challenged Rhett in a duel and started the whole thing.
The author of this muddled and, frankly my dear, boring book, has written another book in this universe about Mammy, the main house slave of Tara. It is called Ruth. This must be a name he loves as there are several different women named Ruth in this book.
It has some good one liners and some good parts for sure but on the whole it is even worse than the problematic Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. Both books being put out by the Margaret Mitchell Estate.
That said, I do have some gripes. The first is that, even though a good portion of the story is told from Rhett Butler's point of view, we never get answers to some of the burning "WHY?!?" questions that many GWTW fans have about Butler's actions (particularly in two pivotal scenes). Though these are retold from Rhett's point of view, McCaig doesn't even try to explain or even touch on Butler's rationale. I saw these as golden opportunities wasted.
The second gripe concerns the last section, which takes up after GWTW leaves off. It is surprisingly short, making up perhaps only a quarter of the novel. The climactic events come across as largely contrived and confusing, in much need of further development. As a result, it was hard to understand why the characters made the decisions that they did. It was as if McCaig was rushing to meet the publisher's deadline and cobbled together ideas that sounded good in his head but didn't quite work on paper.
Overall, it was worth the read. It was nice to revisit these characters in a context that gave them more depth but also was true to the way Mitchell had originally written them. Nice work.