Scarlett’s Trilogy

While researching my list for the challenge, I noticed that Gone With The Wind won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. I have mentioned a few times of my love for Gone With The Wind, how I’ve read it over and over again, how I can open it at almost any point in the narrative, and know exactly what’s going on. I have to say, though, that I have always felt a bit guilty for loving it, because of the racism of the writing, in addition to an overly romanticized view of the ‘gentility’ of the antibellum south. And yet…I’m sucked in.  Sucked in so completely that I can’t resist a good (or merely decent) sequel.  Love it all. 

Gone with the Wind

“Sometimes only remembered for the epic motion picture and “Frankly … I don’t give a damn,” Gone with the Wind was initially a compelling and entertaining novel. It was the sweeping story of tangled passions and the rare courage of a group of people in Atlanta during the time of Civil War that brought those cinematic scenes to life. The reason the movie became so popular was the strength of its characters–Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, and Ashley Wilkes–all created here by the deft hand of Margaret Mitchell, in this, her first novel. “

I first read Gone With The Wind in 7th or 8th grade.  I think I was kind of showing off, because one of the electives I was taking was “Reading for Pleasure”, where we could read anything we wanted, and talk about it in class…pretty much an easy-A class, but I took it so I would have an excuse to read and all.  Anyway, I was plowing through all of these books, and my teacher challenged me to grab something thicker, a ‘chunkster’, if you will…so I grabbed “Gone With The Wind”.  I was sucked in…the characters are so well drawn, that while you don’t necessarily want to go hang out with Scarlett, because she’d be all sweet to your face, and then she’d stab you in the back when you weren’t paying attention, even so, you UNDERSTAND her, you know what she’s going through and why, and you root for her like hell.   You can’t imagine being widowed at 17, wanting to dance and play and be stuck in black mourning the rest of your life.  You shiver with the horror of a starving family.  You can imagine the horror of loving someone so completely, against all reason, and you want to slap her, because damn it, doesn’t she know sense when she hears it?  Rhett is the right man for her.  Sigh.

Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley

“The timeless tale continues… The most popular and beloved American historical novel ever written, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind is unparalleled in its portrayal of men and women at once larger than life but as real as ourselves. Now bestselling writer Alexandra Ripley brings us back to Tara and reintroduces us to the characters we remember so well: Rhett, Ashley, Mammy, Suellen, Aunt Pittypat, and, of course, Scarlett. As the classic story, first told over half a century ago, moves forward, the greatest love affair in all fiction is reignited; amidst heartbreak and joy, the endless, consuming passion between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler reaches its startling culmination. Rich with surprises at every turn and new emotional, breathtaking adventures, Scarlett satisfies our longing to reenter the world of Gone With the Wind, and like its predecessor, Scarlett will find an eternal place in our hearts.”

I was so excited to read this book, I called in sick to work, and walked to the bookstore to pick it up.  The critics hated this book, they panned it pretty universally, but actually, it wasn’t that bad.  Some of it was trite, and seemed to some folks to go against the character  that Mitchell had created.  But Mitchell never wanted a sequel, and her heirs DID, so they commissioned someone to write a story…and I think the author wanted to have some emotional growth for Scarlett.  I think she did a decent job of that.  Some of the writing when she’s in Ireland is shockingly bad, however, and looks like a soap opera.  I never saw the miniseries, by the way, because I read that Scarlett was raped in it, and that never happened in the book, and that bothered me.  Esp since Rhett practically raped her in the original, and she liked it, so why go there with someone else?  Plus, Timothy Dalton may be a decent James Bond, but not Rhett.

The Wind Done Gone, Alice Randall

“In a brilliant rejoinder and an inspired act of literary invention, Alice Randall explodes the world created in Margaret Mitchell”s famous 1936 novel, the work that more than any other has defined our image of the antebellum South. Imagine simply that the black characters peopling that world were completely different, not egregious, one-dimensional stereotypes but fully alive, complex human beings. And then imagine, quite plausibly, that at the center of this world moves an illegitimate mulatto woman, and that this woman, Cynara, Cinnamon, or Cindy — beautiful and brown — gets to tell her story. “

This book was almost not published…the estate of Scarlett fought it, didn’t want it to be published, not at all interested in having the story told from the black point of view.  I loved it.  It was very well written, and cool to see how the author came up with some pretty imaginative alternative views to the story presented in Gone With The Wind.  If you’re a fan of GWTW, I would encourage you to pick this book up and check it out…

51H1vmeXeOL._AA240_Rhett Butler’s People, Donald McCaig

“Donald McCaig is the award-winning author of Jacob’s Ladder designated “the best civil war novel ever written” by The Virginia Quarterly. People magazine raved “Think Gone With the Wind, think Cold Mountain.” It won the Michael Sharra Award for Civil War Fiction and the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction.”

OK, I’m not sure what a trilogy becomes when there are 4 installments rather than 3.  While looking for links and so on to the first three books, the ones I’ve read, I came across the news that the Mitchell estate has commissioned a book from Rhett’s point of view, covering the GWTW years.  It comes out this November, and you can bet I’ll be reading it.

This entry was posted in Books.

12 thoughts on “Scarlett’s Trilogy

  1. Like you I love GWTW – the book and the movie. I’m one of those folks that wanted the story to end with the first book and have not picked up (or watched) any of the other installments.

  2. I liked ‘The Wind Done Gone’ as well. I think they fought so hard against it because Scarlett comes off in such a bad light. But really, she’s such an ambivalent character. Some people in her life would adore her and others would hate her, that’s what makes her so real.

    McCaig is supposedly a good writer. I’ll have to check ‘Rhett Butler’s People’ out.

  3. It’s amazing how these characters are able to serve as a screen for different authors to cast their own magic lantern show on. Perspective is so different and so interesting — truly, no two people live in the same universe.

  4. oh, i’ll never forget reading gwtw for the first time.

    never read scarlett, although i LOVE the name 😉

    don’t think i’ll try for the third in the trilogy… it might spoil my memories of the first one.

  5. Have read the books and seen the movies… admittedly, I was disappointed with the sequel… a bit fuff I thought, and not quite as true to the original characters as it could have/should have been. But I didn’t regret spending the time with it.

    SO glad to find another kindred spirit who loves this tale and the unforgettable characters in it.

    BTW – Scarlett is a real nickname of mine, given to me by a dear friend who told me I’m the best Northern Belle this side of the Mason Dixon line. (She is the Belle of the south). It stuck… perhaps it’s my pout when I don’t get my way.
    Nonetheless, I am a good Scarlett, not nearly as vindictive as the original, but don’t we love that about her…

    will be back soon

    Scarlett

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