Rhett Butler’s People
Rhett Butler’s People is an authorized sequel to Gone with the Wind. The novel’s central premise is that the original novel is not the only true story about the great Southerner. Although the novel follows the same plot and characters, it takes place about twelve years earlier. It includes some familiar faces and introduces some new ones.
As one might expect, McCaig is an accomplished writer and this is a highly entertaining and well researched novel. He has an obvious interest in the South and is very familiar with the characters and the historical context. His version of Gone with the Wind has some of the same charm as the original, and he is able to make it feel like something is missing in the original.
This is an impressive feat, given that the original novel is only a few years old and most of the surviving cast are already in their 80s. Rhett has been through it all and hasn’t exactly had a happy ending. His relationship with Scarlett is strained, and his father is less than cooperative. But the biggest problem is that his family never really embraced him. Even when his father sends him to Charleston, he refuses. There’s also the matter of the enigmatic Scarlett and her unrequited love for Will. While the novel is a great piece of work, its ending leaves a lot to be desired.
One of the most interesting aspects of Rhett’s People is that the author uses a combination of fact and fiction to craft a plausible backstory. In a way, the book is a work of genuine literary aspiration, as it attempts to provide readers with an authentic account of Butler’s life. Rather than merely retelling the story, McCaig has crafted a series of fictional episodes to bring the protagonist to life. Aside from the main narrative, he’s also managed to incorporate several of the other minor players, including the fictional hunk that would be Scarlett O’Hara and her free black lover Tunnis Bonneau.
McCaig also has a real feel for the men in his story. In his version of Gone with the Wind, the character of Ravenal is a dashing Confederate col-onel. Ravenal is linked to a manservant named Cassius. Ravenal later joins the Ku Klux Klan and resents his former companions for their role in his downfall. Nevertheless, his most impressive scene occurs when Ravenal purchases a ticket to a blackface minstrel troupe.
Despite the book’s shortcomings, it is still a solid work of fiction and a good choice for fans of the original. It’s not a rehash of the original, but it does show off the best and worst of the South. That said, the book is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, if you’re a fan of Rhett and Scarlett, you’ll probably enjoy this novel more than the original.
McCaig’s Rhett is an engaging character who is not nearly as meek as he could have been. His backstory is a fascinating one, and he is an excellent storyteller.