Rhett Butler’s People – Donald McCaig

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I loved Gone with the Wind, but was surprised by the abrupt ending, and left desperate to know what happened next. I quickly discovered that there were a few sequels out there and so decided to pick one up.

Rhett Butler’s People tells the story of Rhett Butler, the central male character from Gone with the Wind; from his early childhood until a few years after the close of GWTW.

Initially I was quite impressed with the story, as I learnt about Rhett’s difficult childhood, but then the book came to where Gone with the Wind begins and I found that it just seemed to be repeating everything I already knew. It wouldn’t have been so bad if if the story had focused on things from Rhett’s perspective, but it didn’t. Scarlett seemed to be the centre of this book too and the book kept retelling her story, despite the fact Rhett wasn’t even present for the majority of it. This was completely unnecessary as I can’t imagine anyone picking up this book without having read GWTW first, and the repetition began to irritate me. 

The last few chapters explain what happened to the couple after the end of GWTW and although they felt realistic, I came to realise that I didn’t really want to know what happened. The ambiguous ending is what makes GWTW so special, a sequel only ruins this.

The writing was very similar to GWTW, and if you had told me that Margaret Mitchell had written it then I would have believed you. The only problem was that there were quite a few inconsistencies between the two books. I noticed a few things occurring in the wrong order, or missing completely from one of the books. I think this would drive true GWTW fans mad.

I listened to the audio book version of this book and while it isn’t perfectly suited to this media, it wasn’t bad. John Bedford Lloyd did a really good job narrating it, producing a range of voices, but the length and descriptive passages of this book meant that I would have preferred to read it for myself.

Overall, this was a reasonable book in it’s own right, but as a companion book to GWTW  it had a lot of flaws. Recommended only to GWTW obsessives – who have probably sought it out already!

stars3

 

Have you read any of the GWTW sequels?

Would you recommend them?


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25 Comments

  1. Bangzo says:

    Great review! I agree though, that this book may not get the interest of today’s readers, unless they’re GWTW fans.

    1. Jackie says:

      I really hope that noone reads this without having read GWTW first. They would be missing out on such a good book. Reading this first would ruin the magic of GWTW.

  2. Simon S says:

    I am always dubious of sequels unless they were written by the author which is rare (apart from series). People always ask me if I have read the sequels and prequels of Rebecca!
    I own them all but everytime I go to I am unsure I want to know what happened to the characters, it’s a double edged sword!

    1. Jackie says:

      This is the first sequel I have ever read which has been written by a different author. This book has made me much less likely to pick up another one in the future.

      I still haven’t got round to reading Rebecca – I’m saving it for a time when I can devote my full attention to it and not worry about having to read other books within a certain timeframe – ie. after this year’s Bookers. I’m sure it will be one of my all time favourites, so I want to ensure I savour it properly.

  3. Misfit says:

    As soon as the author started rewriting scenes from GWTW and sticking his own characters in those scenes that this book flew across the room and went straight back to the library. I had thought about trying the sequel that Alexandra Ripley wrote but after looking closely at the reviews on Amazon I’ve decided its best to leave the story where Mitchell left it.

    1. I think leaving the story as it is is a good idea. There were times when I wanted to throw the book across the room, but I couldn’t as I was listening to a CD in the car!

  4. Christina says:

    I read this one as well. The beginning was very interesting and the strongest part of the book, but I too was very frustrated when I got to the point where GWTW begins. There was no insight into Rhett’s thoughts and actions once Scarlett’s story began.

    1. I agree – for a story about Rhett we rarely got to glimpse what he was thinking. Disappointing.

  5. Steph says:

    I haven’t read GWTW yet (you and Claire both dissuaded me from lugging such a beast on my honeymoon), but in general I don’t like reading sequels to novels that aren’t penned by the original author. There are a bunch of Jane Austen-related sequels floating out there, but after trying one or two, I’ve learned to steer clear of them.

    1. I stick by my recommendation not to read this on a honeymoon, but now you’re back you should pick GWTW up straight away!

  6. Trish says:

    I have Scarlett on my shelf but just can’t bring myself to read it. I’ve heard good things about this, but like you I don’t really want to know the continuation of Rhett and Scarlett’s story. I was a little heartbroken at the end of GWTW, and especially the movie, that I don’t think I could bear more disappointment. And boo to the constant retelling of Scarlett’s story. Haven’t we had enough of her?? :P

    1. Jackie says:

      I love Scarlett’s character – she is one of the few I’d hate to be friends with in real life, but love reading about. I am tempted to read Scarlett at some poitn. Perhaps I will one day.

  7. Sandy says:

    I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know ANYTHING that went on after that last scene. It is more sweeping and romantic as it is! That is why I have not read any of the other sequels out there.

    BTW, guess what I just from the library? The Suspicions of Mr. Wicher! I am on a Jackie roll! Don’t know when the hell I’m going to fit it in…I’ve got so many commitments this next month, but I will make it fit. I can’t wait. I am loving Blindness so far…about halfway through.

    1. Jackie says:

      I’m so pleased you are enjoying Blindness! It is so good that you are reading my favourites.

      Mr Whicher isn’t in the same league as the others, but it is fascinating – I hope you enjoy it.

  8. i actually read GWTW for the first time last winter and loved it. i immediately tried watching parts of the movie online. i hadn’t considered sequels but may line up a few for this winter–to keep me busy, you know? :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Rhett Butler’s People will keep you busy – I think all the GWTW sequels are chunksters.

  9. Nicole says:

    I tried to read and ended up mostly skimming Scarlett and it was pretty awful. I liked the made-for-tv movie better but that os hardly saying much. I also read The Wind Done Gone which was told from Scarlett’s black slave half-sister’s perspective (she was also involved with Rhett). That was an interesting take on the story and more accurate to the slavery piece of the story and a much better boo than Scarlett. I would like to read it again as I’m a bit vague on the details after reading it several years ago.

    1. Jackie says:

      I didn’t know there was a made for TV version – I’ll have to keep an eye out for that.

  10. Matthew says:

    I echo Simon on presequels and sequels. I have avoided most of the Austen spinoffs for fearing of spoiling my impression. This one on Rhett Butler might be a bit interesting since my memories of Gone with the Wind is still fresh. I have very high expectation of Rebecca, which bloggers love and rave about. I’m looking forward to reading that.

    1. Jackie says:

      I actually think the reverse is true. The fresher your memories, the worse this book will be. 3/4 of the book just retells GWTW. It might be worth reading this in 10+ years time when you have forgotten the finer details of GWTW and so won’t get irritated by the inconsistencies/repetition.

  11. Violet says:

    As you said I don’t want to know what happenned next. The repitition would have bothered me too. I’ve heard Scarlett is a good sequel to GWTW. I might have read it if it wasn’t so huge, but I’ve heard good things about it.

    And yes, I don’t want to know more about Rhett either. Its the ‘I wonder why he is like that’ quality of the character that i adore so much :)

    1. Jackie says:

      In many ways I wish I hadn’t read it. I’m trying to forget the new ending and concentrate on the real one – it was so much better.

  12. Kari says:

    OOh, I just don’t think I could read sequels to a classic like GWTW. Scarlett has been sitting on a bookcase in my house for years because my mom bought it and heard it was terrible. Plus, Margaret Mitchell left it the story where it was for a reason. It just seems unnecessary to add more, and I think it detracts from the story more than anything else.

  13. I’ve not read this one, but I get what you mean about ambiguous endings and not actually wanting a sequel, even if it feels like you do. Sometimes, when the writing and character development are strong, just knowing that life goes on and ultimately they’ll be O.K. is quite satisfying.

  14. I read this one last winter and loved it.

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