RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE by Donald McCaig
Read: Sept 2 - 12
I have been an enormous fan of Gone with the Wind since I first saw the movie and then realized after reading the book how much had been missing, so when I saw this book on the Library shelves, and saw that it was authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate, I had to read it. I'm certainly glad I did. All those nagging questions that made me read and re-read GWTW, were finally answered to my satisfaction and delight.
This is the story based on the character Rhett Butler from Gone of the Wind. Rhett is the dashing, witty, rogue who scandalizes Atlanta and yet manages to win every lady's heart. In GWTW, Rhett just appears at the Wilkes Barbecue at Twelve Oaks, and then proceeds to get involved with all the characters of that book. This book which runs concurrently with GWTW answers all the behind the scenes questions that are just innuendos in GWTW.
Why was Rhett at the BBQ, how did he know the Wilkes', why was he 'not received' in Charleston homes even his own, what's his relationship with Belle Waitling? All these questions and so many more are detailed and explained through a riveting and poignant love story that is seen in a new light.
It's as if Donald McCaig, the author, sat down with Margaret Mitchell and said, I don't understand this point in GWTW, how did this happen and she explained it - every last detail. This book is so intertwined with the story of Scarlett & Rhett that you'd think that there would be no room for anyone else, but no Mr. McCaig (amazing that a man can write with such feeling) manages to tell the tales of not just Scarlett and Rhett, but his sister Rosemary, his friends, Melanie and Ashley, and even Belle Waitiling.
I can understand if some Southerners do not feel that their area came off in a good light in this book, however, since Mr. McCaig was dealing with pre-existing characters and events, it would have been extremely bad form to try to change them beyond how they were originally written. I have read other sequels and they did not appear to be as well researched or written as this book when laid alongside of Margaret Mitchell's original masterpiece. Obviously, Donald McCaig studied and I definitely mean studied GWTW to find all the tiny incidents that reference Rhett, his family and his character so that he could expound on them and broaden Rhett's persona to where it would rival Scarlett. They truly were a pair that belonged together. This book, in the same regard, belongs with Gone With The Wind.