Booktalk: There’re people, and there’s Rhett Butler.

I am in love with Gone with the wind. I have been since I read it for the first time. My mom had a translation of the book, and one holiday she brought it with her for me to read (This actually was the cause of me having a small tantrum since both my brother and my sister got new books, and I got that old copy. Nowadays, I love that it’s old though!). There are so many layers in Gone with the wind that every time I read it, I find something new to obsess about. But, being a teenage girl the romance between Scarlett and Rhett kept fascinating me…(And ooh! How my heart broke at the famous ‘ My dear, I don’t give a damn’!).

And now there’s finally some insight into Rhett! Meet Rhett, without Scarlett’s judgment, by meeting everybody who has shape Rhett in one way or another. The book covers his childhood, his dad, why he isn’t received in Charleston anymore and how he met Scarlett. And how his sister grew up, what his connection with Belle Watling is and how she got into her scene.

Rhett Butler’s People – Donald McCaig

As mentioned, I loved Gone with the wind and Scarlett O’hara. The first time I read it, I wasn’t too rhettsure of Rhett, him being too confident and me not being into men with mustaches and fancy suits. He was absolutely not my type. But he grew on me and finally became one of my favorite characters in the book. So I was really excited when I found this book. It gives some depth to Rhett compared to the person in Gone with the wind, but he also comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue character. Sometimes it feels more as justifying Rhett instead of explaining his character. Everything he does as an explanation, most of the time a morally solid one. And it gets boring after a while. I miss the cunning, witty Rhett.

Acceptable flat but could be better
The main characters (Rhett, his sister Rosemary and Belle, for example) get some depth during the novel, even though it’s not that deep. However, it could have been so much better! McCaig could have, should have, introduced fewer people and focus more on the people already familiar. I would have loved to read more about Rhett’s hopes, Rosemary’s childhood and Belle’s life (and son!).

“Rosemary, in his heart your brother is a lover. The shrewd businessman, the adventurer, the dandy are but costumes the lover wears. ” 

Another issue I have with the book is how rushed it feels. It flies through everything and jumps in time and between the point of view. It did occur that I lost whose POV I was reading and had to check what the connection between two characters actually was. This was also one of the reasons you don’t really get to know the characters. I dig that the plot goes beyond where Gone with the wind ends, I’m a sucker and needed to know what happens with Rhett and Scarlett.

Sequels and other sequels
I did read Scarlett as well, which was a bit confusing. Mostly because I didn’t think of the fact that Scarlett and Rhett Butler’s people are nothing more that co-existing, and happen to be based around the same original book. That’s all. McCaig’s writing style is very different from Mitchells and it’s best to not even think about Gone with the wind. Treat it like a distant cousin at a wedding.

All in all
I did like the book, but I reckon mostly because I loved Gone with the wind and I’d do anything to read more of Mitchells characters. (On that note: check out my earlier talk about The wind done goneprobably the most hilarious sequel with a seriously cool topic ever).

What’s your take on sequels and prequels written by other authors?