Book Review: Rhett Butler's People

Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCraig is an authorised sequel to Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, which is a personal favourite, as is another authorised sequel by Alexandra Ripley called Scarlett. So when I saw Rhett Butler’s People I instantly knew that I had to buy and read it!

For three reasons I was a little disappointed. Although the title is not misleading, which is a credit to the author, Rhett Butler’s People isn’t really about Rhett and Scarlett. Whilst it touches on the main events of their (well known) story, I thought it would be a retelling of the original story, but from Rhett’s perspective. This book is mainly about Rhett’s childhood and then the people in his life as an adult. A large portion of the book is told from their point of view and is about their lives. I wasn’t expecting that, but I managed to get over it fast.

The second reason I was disappointed was because the story concentrates on the American Civil War far too much for my liking. I wasn’t interested in that side of the story at all and found it dragged the story down. (I’ve never enjoyed reading about battles or wars of any kind.)

Putting those two disappointments to one side, the book was good. Once I accepted that the book isn’t really about Rhett and Scarlett, I became riveted with some of the storylines, especially those which tugged at the heart strings. And it did expand on the original story to some degree.

I found the writing to be readable and in parts, absorbing. The characters were well written and had depth. The settings were realistic. Overall, a good read, but I would have liked the war to be in the background. It would have made a huge difference to my review, which as it stands is quite puny. There isn’t a lot more to say, because the book didn’t “speak” to me as the previous two did, which is a shame.

But what about the third reason for my disappointment? Donald McCraig chose to ignore the other sequel called Scarlett, therefore making up a different sequence of events after the “I don’t give a damn” moment. As his book is an authorised sequel, as was the book written by Alexandra Ripley, I felt he made a bad move when he made that decision. For me, it was tragic and a complete let down and I’m afraid to say that Rhett’s Butler’s People will not be given a place on my “favourites shelf” as a result.

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