2000 - 2007 Audio Book Historical Fiction

Rhett Butler’s People – Donald McCaig

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!



Have you read any of the GWTW sequels?

Would you recommend them?

Chunkster Pulitzer Prize Recommended books

Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

I have finished! I think that this is the longest book I have ever read, and even though it was a pleasurable, easy read, the length felt like a heavy commitment. It took me nearly six weeks,  but I am pleased to have finally finished all 1000+ pages.


Gone with the Wind follows Scarlett O’Hara through the years of the American Civil War. She battles through fear, hunger and loss; but also against her love for the unobtainable Ashley, and the uncompromising Rhett Butler.

Scarlett is an amazing character; she was just so entertaining to read about. I loved her naive decisions, and her determination to succeed as a woman, despite the pressures on her to behave in a more ladylike manner.

The complexity of the story was it’s major plus point. The book’s length meant that the lives of all the side characters could be developed properly, and this led to a very satisfying book, in which I felt that I knew everyone that Scarlett did, and how they’d react to the ever changing circumstances.

The horror of the war was fully portrayed, without the need for graphic descriptions. The never-ending line of injured soldiers, the fear Scarlett felt, and most importantly, the compassion fatigue she experienced as the suffering continued, brought it all home to me vividly. I’m ashamed to admit that this book is my only source of knowledge on the American Civil War. I have just started reading Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Penguin history)and Tara Revisited: Women, War and the Plantation Legend to gain a greater understanding of what actually happened. I’ll let you know what I thought of these books soon.

I loved the first half of Gone with the Wind (Volume One), but some sections of the second volume really grated on me, and I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much. I think my main problem was the severe racism present in it. Margaret Mitchell clearly sympathises with white supremacists, and portrayed many of the black characters as being not much better than animals. I know that this is a product of the time it was written, and that thankfully times have changed, but the mention of the Ku Klux Klan just ruined my opinions of many of the characters. How could a character as seemingly lovely as Ashley end up being a member of the Klan?  All my empathy for him evaporated instantly. Did you have any objections to the extreme rascism?

I haven’t seen the film, so was totally shocked by the ending. The blurb on the back of my book describes GWTW as “the greatest love story of all time”. I was expecting everything to fall nicely in place, and for Scarlett and Rhett to finally come to their senses and realise how good for each other they could be. How wrong was I?!! The loss of Melanie, and then Rhett’s refusal to return to Scarlett, left me shocked, and almost beyond words. Once I managed to lift myself above the horror of it, I realised that this was probably the best ending that could have occurred. Throughout the book Scarlett comes across as a selfish, spoilt child, and for her to finally lose everything that actually meant anything to her was a fitting end.

I am keen to read  Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”, as I’d love to know what someone else thinks should happen to the couple next. Has anyone read Scarlett? Is it worth reading?

Despite its flaws, Gone with the Wind is the best piece of historical fiction I have ever read. I highly recommend it to anyone who has the time to read such a long novel.

Many thanks to Matthew from A Guys Moleskine Notebook for hosting the Gone with the Wind read-along.

Did you enjoy reading Gone with the Wind?

What did you like about it most? Least?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Gone with the Wind – Volume One

Matthew from A Guys Moleskine Notebook is hosting a Gone with the Wind read-along. In theory we are supposed to have finished the book this week, but I am a bit behind. I’ve just got to the end of volume one (p505/1011 in my copy) so I thought this half way stage was a great point to reflect on what I’ve read so far.

I am really enjoying it! Scarlett O’Hara has just become my favourite character from a book. I don’t like her all the time, but her flawed character is endearing, and I’m loving her gradual transformation from a spoilt child, into a hard-working woman. Scarlett’s attitude to her son is shocking at times, but I guess that this was not uncommon in this period of history, as most children were brought up by a variety of people other than their mothers.

I’m finding the story very interesting. The plot is perfectly paced, and holds my attention throughout, despite it’s length. I can’t wait to discover what happens to Scarlett in the rest of the book!

My only criticism of the book is that it lacks detailed descriptions. This means that I am often unable to picture the places mentioned. I haven’t seen the film, and don’t know much about this period in history, so am probably in a different situation to most other readers. 

I found Tara Revisited amongst my stock, and so I decided to read it, to give myself a greater background knowledge of the time.




Tara Revisited gives a insight into what life was like for women during the war, but I found that it assumed a basic knowledge of the conflict, which I’m afraid I’m lacking. So, perhaps foolishly, I have also started reading Battle Cry of Freedom, which won the Pulitzer prize for non-fiction in 2003. This massive 950 page chunkster describes the complete history of the war, and so far I’ve found it very readable. You might not see many book reviews on this blog in the coming weeks, but you’ll be able to ask me anything about the civil war!

Chunkster Other

Gone with the Wind – Why I’m not attempting to keep up with everyone else!

Matthew from A Guys Moleskine Notebook is hosting a Gone with the Wind read-along. I have never read Gone with the Wind, or seen the film, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to attempt this 1000+ page chunkster.

The idea was to read 200 pages a week, starting on the 1st March. So in theory we should all be at around page 400 today. I’ve only made it to around page 150 – so I am well behind the group! I’ve decided that I am not  even going to attempt to catch up with everyone anymore because… (and this reason may seem strange to you)…I’m enjoying it too much!

I think Gone with the Wind may become one of my all time favourite books, so I want to savour ever sentence. Each page is crammed with information, and I want to absorb it all. This means that I can only read about 10 – 20 pages at a time, which in turn means that it may take me a month or two to finish it, but I don’t care – I’m enjoying it so much!