Rhett Butler's People
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Rhett Butler's People

3.6 221
by Donald McCaig
     
 

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Fully authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate, Rhett Butler's People is the astonishing and long-awaited novel that parallels the Great American Novel, Gone with the Wind. Twelve years in the making, the publication of Rhett Butler's People marks a major and historic cultural event.

Through the storytelling mastery of award-winning writer

Overview

Fully authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate, Rhett Butler's People is the astonishing and long-awaited novel that parallels the Great American Novel, Gone with the Wind. Twelve years in the making, the publication of Rhett Butler's People marks a major and historic cultural event.

Through the storytelling mastery of award-winning writer Donald McCaig, the life and times of the dashing Rhett Butler unfold. Through Rhett's eyes we meet the people who shaped his larger than life personality as it sprang from Margaret Mitchell's unforgettable pages: Langston Butler, Rhett's unyielding father; Rosemary, his steadfast sister; Tunis Bonneau, Rhett's best friend and onetime slave; Belle Watling, the woman for whom Rhett cared for long before he met Scarlett O'Hara at Twelve Oaks Plantation, on the fateful eve of the Civil War.

Of course, there is Scarlett. Katie Scarlett O'Hara, the headstrong, passionate woman whose life is inextricably entwined with Rhett's: more like him than she cares to admit; more in love with him than she'll ever know…

Brought to vivid and authentic life by the hand of a master, Rhett Butler's People fulfills the dreams of those whose imaginations have been indelibly marked by Gone with the Wind.

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 Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction and the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction.

"Rhett Butler's People covers the period from 1843 to 1874, nearly two decades more than are chronicled in Gone with the Wind. Readers will…get inside Rhett's head as he meets and courts Scarlett O'Hara in one of the most famous love affairs of all time." --The New York Times

"McCaig is a bred-in-the-bones storyteller." -Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Geraldine Brooks

Editorial Reviews

It was the rabid enthusiasm of Margaret Mitchell's fans that forever terminated the possibility of another Gone with the Wind book. The Atlanta author was so unnerved by the persistence of the novel's devotees that she reportedly vowed to never write another word. In any case, her death in 1949, 13 years after the book's publication, forever closed the question of a sequel. Or so it seemed until 1991, when the Margaret Mitchell Estate sanctioned a sequel, Alexandra Ripley's Scarlett. Now, after a protracted search, the estate has fully authorized this stylish retelling of the Gone with the Wind saga through the eyes of Scarlett's beloved Rhett Butler. Find yourself a cozy nook and a cup of hot cocoa, and get ready to curl up for a warm winter read.
Stephen L. Carter
McCaig's prose captures something of the charm and smoothness of the original. He understands that the power of Mitchell's narrative arose because she set the romance against momentous events. He sensibly places the postwar struggle over white supremacy at the heart of his story. But mostly his goal is to rehabilitate Rhett. The Klan question, the woman he dishonored, the rumors of a bastard in New Orleans, the money supposedly pilfered from the Confederate treasury—all of this McCaig explains away while keeping the story moving at a nice clip, faster even than the original.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Was it strictly necessary to our understanding of Gone With the Wind's dashing hero to flesh out his backstory, replay famous GWTWscenes from his perspective, and crank the plot past the original's astringent denouement? Perhaps not, but it's still a fun ride. In this authorized reimagining, Rhett, disowned son of a cruel South Carolina planter, is still a jaunty worldly-wise charmer, roguish but kind; Scarlett is still feisty, manipulative and neurotic; and the air of besieged decorum is slightly racier. (Rhett: "My dear, you have jam at the corner of your mouth." Scarlett: "Lick it off.") But it says much about the author's sure feel for Margaret Mitchell's magnetic protagonists that they still beguile us. McCaig (Jacob's Ladder) broadens the canvas, giving Rhett new dueling and blockade-running adventures, and adding intriguing characters like Confederate cavalier-turned-Klansman Andrew Ravanel, a rancid version of Ashley Wilkes who romances Rhett's sister, Rosemary. He paints a richer, darker panorama of a Civil War-era South, where poor whites seethe with resentment, and slavery and racism are brutal facts of life that an instinctive gentleman like Rhett can work around but not openly challenge. McCaig thus imparts a Faulknerian tone to the saga that sharpens Mitchell's critique of Southern nostalgia without losing the epic sweep and romantic pathos. The result is an engrossing update of GWTWthat fans of the original will definitely give a damn about. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
From the Publisher

“Rhett Butler's People covers the period from 1843 to 1874, nearly two decades more than are chronicled in Gone With the Wind. Readers will...get inside Rhett's head as he meets and courts Scarlett O'Hara in one of the most famous love affairs of all time.” —The New York Times

“McCaig creates a convincing back story and has a real feel for men and the tensions between fathers, sons, friends and soldiers, as well as the nuances of Southern honor…The novel focuses on Rhett's point of view and explains exactly where he got his dash.” —USA Today

“A must-read for Gone with the Wind fans.” —People

“Rhett Butler's People broadens the canvas, giving Rhett new dueling and blockade-running adventures, and adding intriguing characters like Confederate cavalier-turned-Klansman Andrew Ravanel, a rancid version of Ashley Wilkes who romances Rhett's sister, Rosemary. McCaig paints a richer, darker panorama of a Civil War-era South, where poor whites seethe with resentment, and slavery and racism are brutal facts of life that an instinctive gentleman like Rhett can work around but not openly challenge. McCaig thus imparts a Faulknerian tone to the saga that sharpens Mitchell's critique of Southern nostalgia without losing the epic sweep and romantic pathos. The result is an engrossing update of Gone With the Wind that fans of the original will definitely give a damn about.” —Publishers Weekly

“In McCaig's capable hands, Margaret Mitchell's mystery man is still handsome and daring but fitted with a plausible backstory and human frailties…” —Roanoke Times

“Read with eloquence, charisma and a bit of spontaneity tossed by John Bedford Lloyd...With a profusion of drama, action, romance and tragedy, Lloyd gets it right every time and never fails to convey the underlying tension throughout.” —PW, Starred Review

“McCaig is a bred-in-the bones storyteller.” —Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks

“Different points of view…illuminate familiar scenes…Lloyd excels at accents and emotions.” —AudioFile

“McCaig has taken on a monumental task in attempting to augment the mythology of such a well-loved story…While remaining largely faithful to Mitchell's framework, he has made the story of Butler his own.” —The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)

“In Gone With the Wind, Butler was mysterious, and that added to his allure. Here, we learn more about his background: about his harsh, unforgiving father; his long-suffering mother; his own wild ways. In some ways, this Rhett is a kinder, gentler sort than the one readers loved…” —Tampa Tribune

“This astonishing novel parallels Gone with the Wind, adding new dimensions to the timeless love story.” —Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312262518
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
11/06/2007
Edition description:
Based on Gone With the Wind
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Deathwatch
As Melanie Wilkes was dying, Rhett Butler waited in the parlor of his mansion on Peachtree Street, listening to the clock.

It was October. A dark, drizzly afternoon.

His glass of cognac had been distilled from grapes Napoléon's armies might have passed. It tasted like ashes.

The Governor of Georgia, Senators, and United States Congressmen had been entertained in this room. The workman who'd fitted its chair rails had got more pleasure from this house than Rhett ever had.

The big house was quiet as a tomb. After Bonnie died, he'd shunned Ella and Wade. He was afraid he'd look at the living children and think, it might have been you instead of Bonnie. If only it had been you. . . . Mammy and Prissy took the children out of the house to play. When it rained, Ella and Wade played in the carriage house.

He'd quit going to his desk at the Farmer's and Merchants' Bank. Yesterday -- or was it the day before? -- the bank's president had come, deeply worried. Although the Farmer's and Merchants' hadn't invested in the Northern Pacific, when Jay Cooke declared bankruptcy, the New York Stock Exchange collapsed. All over the country, depositors raced to their banks to withdraw their savings. Banks had failed in New York, Philadelphia, Savannah, Charleston, and Nashville. The Farmer's and Merchants' didn't have enough cash to meet the demand.

"Rhett," the president begged, "could you help?"

Rhett Butler pledged his fortune so Farmer's and Merchants' depositors could withdraw their savings in cash -- every cent. Since they could, they didn't.

Rhett didn't care.

The clock chimed the hour: six funereal strokes.

A gust in the still room ruffled the hair on the nape of his neck and Rhett knew Miss Melly was dead.

Melanie Wilkes was one of the few creatures Rhett had ever known who would not be deceived.

As the brown autumnal light leaked out of the room, Rhett lit the gaslights.

Had he loved Scarlett, or had he loved what she might become? Had he deceived himself -- loving the image more than the flesh and blood woman?

Rhett didn't care.

If she had betrayed him again and again with Ashley Wilkes, Rhett didn't care. Ashley was free now. If she still wanted the man, she could have him.

That evening, when Rhett's wife came home from Melanie Wilkes's deathbed, she told her husband she loved him. Scarlett had never said that before, and Rhett may have believed her. But he didn't care. Rhett Butler looked into the pale green eyes that had mesmerized him for so many years and did not give a damn.

Meet the Author

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 Shaara Award for Civil War Fiction and the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction.

John Bedford Lloyd, a graduate of Yale's School of Drama, has appeared in a host of major motion pictures, including The Bourne Supremacy, Crossing Delancey, The Abyss, The Manchurian Candidate, and Philadelphia. His television credits include Suits, Pan Am, Law & Order, Spin City, and The West Wing. His critically-acclaimed audiobook narration includes reading for authors such as Michael Crichton, Nicholas Sparks, Paul Doiron, and Atul Gawande, among others.

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Rhett Butler's People 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 221 reviews.
ophelia021 More than 1 year ago
I admit I approached this sequel to "Gone With The Wind" with great trepidation after reading the truly dreadful "Scarlett" by Alexandra Ripley. Mr McCaig's sequel is cut from a very different cloth. His exceptional understanding of Ms Mitchell's characters is remarkable. His extensive back story of Rhett is both compelling and touching. The plot is skillfully wound around, before and after the original book. I LOVED this book when I expected to hate it! I think Ms Mitchell would have approved. "Rhett Butler's People" is in a word WONDERFUL! If you love Scarlett and Rhett read this book. It makes perfect sense.
Tara_Florida More than 1 year ago
Timeline all mis-matched from GWTW, and alarming lack of Scarlett (even though she's in it.) But, hey, if you want Scarlett, read GWTW. If you want absorbing stories of Civil War battles and their soldiers, and Rhett's adventures whenever he went missing from Scarlett's life, enjoy this book. Even if you get annoyed with it, it's an enjoyable, sweeping read. I much liked the bittersweet story of Tunis Bonneau and Rhett, and Rhett's sister Rosemary is an engaging character. If it weren't for their stories, I'd have given it three stars instead of four. Melly, Ashley, and Scarlett fall flat as characters, as do Mammy and Prissy. Rhett, well, he holds his own since it's his story. Its even-handed, unromanticized treatment of the Confederacy and the Old South makes sure it will NEVER replace GWTW as THE definitive novel of the Old South. However, you'll find yourself drawn in to this saga by a premiere, expert writer with an obvious love for the South and a modern sensibility for its past and present.
kanderson More than 1 year ago
This book is great! It tells Rhett's side of the story. It begins before Gone With The Wind and continues after it. After I finished reading it I wanted to pick it up and read it again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As with his 'Jacob¿s Ladder,' which I also read recently, 'Rhett Butler¿s People' is a masterly achievement. It¿s lamentable that those who make the predictable mistake of comparing this expansion to the original, and who, judging by their impatience, seem to prefer, for fiction in general, the literary equivalent of a video game, appoint themselves to judge a great novel within the limited scope of their own expectations. I suspect they have neither the appreciation for, nor the knowledge of, the staggering work involved in recapturing the social customs and political tenor of a bygone era, or for the textures, nuances, observations, and poetic cadences of the author¿s crisp and resonant language - and in particular his attention to the senses: the coppery scent of blood, the acrid smell of smoke or of dried manure, or the air smelling ¿like a burned pepper,¿ the ripple of a specific fabric or a stream¿s shallows, the hungers and thirsts, the sweat, the tears, the triumphs and heartbreaks. Like Howard Bahr in his Franklin trilogy, McCaig wields a brush that paints a complete canvas. His work is not for those who wouldn¿t know an anhinga from a mud hen and couldn¿t care less, or a camellia from a sprig of forsythia, or green baize from a wintergreen poultice. McCaig¿s eye misses nothing, whether it¿s an osprey seizing a wriggling fish from the Flint River, or the detail that cotton plants are thinned eight inches apart. Contemporary writers have become oblivious to natural ambiance. It¿s all so boringly manmade now: asphalt, glass, concrete. McCaig is an artist whose brush paints a diverse and complete canvas. He offers much more than a limited ¿read.¿ He gives us a fully realized world.
ruthieWW More than 1 year ago
Rhett Butler was a very important character in Margaret Mitchell's GONE WITH THE WIND, but the main emphasis was related to the characher of Scarlett O'Hara. Captain Butler's family, which eluded us in GWTW, is now presented to us in a most intriging manner. We discover the reasons and the developments of Butler's character, when we learn of his past, his childhood and his personal feelings.
The author Donald McCaig does not disappoint us with his vivid illustrations, detailed descriptions and deeply moving insight. I am personally a history lover by nature, and I found his Civil War references to be not only interesting, but very authentic and historically correct. He transports us from the present, to another time in our nation's history when turmoil, sacrifice and heart-wrenching events either molded families together or tore them apart. I commend this author for such precise attention to the landscape, the structures, the cities and mostly to the characters, who are so totally believable. The South comes alive to us and we find ourselves involved in the War and in the struggles and heartbreaks of our nation.
GONE WITH THE WIND is a classic that will always stand the test of time. And as we read it, we felt completely fulfilled with the telling of that story, not sensing many unanswered questions. Who really was Belle Watling and why was her son in an orphanage? Who was her son's father? Who was Rhett's father? his mother? What were they like? Why was he not eager to join the Southern cause?
All the answers are found in RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE, a novel sure to keep you interested. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it.
-R_Musick3 More than 1 year ago
I read this book with what I thought were the lowest possible expectations. After Scarlett I thought that nothing could possibly be as horrible, then I read Rhett Butlers people. This book destroyed everything good and sacred about Gone With The Wind and then it burned down Tara. I believe that Mr. McCaig should be taken to the highest court for treason and have his right to ever be published again taken away. If any one enjoyed this book then I apologize for this review but I do not take it back. This book read like a dime store romance, and the characters were completely and utterly different. Oh and it turns the most raw and passionate moments in the history of literature into a rape scene. I hate this book with every part of my soul and the very essence of my being. the biggest waste of time, money, effort, paper, and ink. Oh and if you did enjoy it suggest you read my recommendations.
artemislecter More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I have also read 'Scarlett', the "official sequal", and I can honestly say that I cared for this book much more. Being able to see different aspects of the story, and especially being able to see it from Rhett Butler's point of view, made the original story that much better. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who loves "Gone With the Wind".
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having finished the new page-turner, RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE, can only say hurrah! It is most beautifully written and, from one who first read GONE WITH THE WIND at the age of 9, this book craftily and most successfully used the much loved phrases and situations in the original WIND in putting together the story of Rhett and Scarlet as most of who know the story so well have anticipated. The ending was masterful Very well done!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely AWESOME, I could not put it down. When I finished it I was profoundly saddend because I want more. Of course there are a few differences but suttle ones. It is ok that Scarlett was not in it too much, I wanted every ounce of information I could get on Rhett. I can just dream a man such as him would exist. Any one who puts anything out of GWTW, I'm buying. Such a wonderful love story!!!
OkieHM More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book after reading GWTW. I was almost embarrassed by the silly plots created by the author to tie in characters from the original book with this one. As one reviewer wrote, I too wonder if the author really read GWTW closely. The author's use of letters to reveal the thoughts and feelings of Melanie Hamilton was inconsistent with the character of Melanie Hamilton as was the whole storyline of Belle Whatling. In GWTW, Rhett identifies her at the end of the book as an "illiterate whore" and yet McCaig uses letters to and from Watling to develop his story. He also has Rhett baring his soul to his sister in the form of letters, mentioning relationships with mistresses and whores. I find this to be highly inconsistent with the norms of the day and really unbelievable. I am astonished the Mitchell estate would authorize a book so ridiculous.
MELKI More than 1 year ago
What has the author done to those characters I liked (or disliked) from Gone With the Wind?
Where did all the charm and magic go?
What a disappointment.
This is a bad book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I saw this book I thought I wouldnt read it as the sequel Scarlett was so bad. But due to curiosity I picked it up. I am a big GWTW fan and no it isnt as good as GWTW. But what could be? It is a good story that actually follows GWTW quite well. Read it with an open mind and if you loved GWTW. I think you will enjoy this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Come on, nothing is ever going to compare with GWTW! But this is an attempt like some other novels (remember 'March'?) to take one of a great novel's characters and weave a background around him or her. Such is the case with this book. The prose is memorable and filled with atmosphere. A good read all-round.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gone With the Wind is my favorite book and movie. The first time I read GWTW, and the last lines 'Tomorrow is another day', I wanted more. So I rushed to Barnes and Nobles and bought Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. After I read it, I tried to forget about it. Mitchell's Scarlett would NEVER sell Tara to Suellen! And being the GWTW fan I am, I ran to Barnes and Nobles and bought Rhett Butler's People the day it came out. After reading it, I feel so much better. It disregarded Ripley's sequel and gave me the ending I wanted. I highly recommend that any GWTW fan should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First, let me say that I am a sucker for a new take on an old story. And Gone with the Wind was one of my favorites of all time 'the book and the movie'. When you read this book, you can't compare it to Gone with the Wind. You have to be prepared to read this as sort of a continuim to that. Once thats settled, the story is wonderful and the writing is charming and sweet. This author took up where Margaret Mitchell left off and did a great job with it. It was so nice to get reaquainted with these characters. I wish that someone would do a series. It could just go on and on forever. It is definitely recommended reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read GWTW several times as well as its sequel Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley; both books worked well tgether and are 2 of my favirites....but a part of me ALWAYS wanted to rewd Rhett's sideof the story...so when this bookcame out I rushed out to buyiton day one; I read the entire book although it is very well written; it was as if I were reading a completely different story and was sadly disappointed and shocked that Margaret Mitchell's people woulf okay this book when it was so off from GWTW and scarlett? Time linesand names didnt match in places and when you are writing a book that is a companion to one of our classics...details like that SHOULD BE IMPORTANT!
Kelli Sobolik More than 1 year ago
i just bought this book from dollar general for 5 dollars.10 seems a little high for a nook book
prettydiva2198 More than 1 year ago
The ending is very interesting it wasn't something that i was at the edge of my chair it mostly talked about "Rhett Kershaw Butler" and almost totally forgot about Scarlett the only interesting parts were the ending chapters and some at the start usually i had to drag myself to read the book because it bored me to distraction.Maybe you might dissagree with me because im 12 years old.So i think it is just better to imagine what happennd at the end of gone with the wind
SheryberryVT More than 1 year ago
Nothing about this book brought me back to the magic of Gone with the Wind. However, if you're like me and just want more of the Gone with the Wind characters this is a good substitute. However, you should be prepared to be somewhat disappointed in how McCaig handles Mitchell's wonderful characters. The key to enjoying this book is to try to separate this story from the classic Gone with the Wind story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With Gone With the Wind as being one of my all time favorites, the book had some tall shoes to fill and I was definitely not disappointed. If you are a fan of this style of writing, era, or a history buff you will enjoy the book. If you are like me, a fan of the romantic story between Rhett and Scarlett, you will be thrilled to see more between them. Rhett was by far my favorite character in the original, I found Scarlett a little whiney at times, but loved Rhett! I always wondered where he disappeared to in the original and now we know!
Tex-MexVietnam More than 1 year ago
This is a perfect book for me. The characters are wonderful and the story terrific. If you loved Gone With the Wind then you will love this book.
Isisdivorina More than 1 year ago
Gone with the wind is long yes, but if you can get through it there is some wit, beauty, charm, the grace of the old south, (and no it is not so much about slavery, GWTW bashers...) that should not be unknown. So it was with that feeling that I began Rhett Butler's people. And I was not, thankfully, disappointed. This book is true to the original, but it adds new chapters, more details and history to the debonair Mr. Buttler's character. It is charming and highlights the beauty of Charleston. It is now one of my favorites. Shame on anyone who dares say that this was an insult to GWTW...if you read the book, you will see it is MUCH better than the "Scarlett" attempt by Ripley
pinkbarnkitty More than 1 year ago
This book is better than GWTW. really. I was completely lost in this book and wanted to cry last night when I finished it. My love of Rhett Butler is even more than it was when I was a teenager. I recommend this book to anyone who loves history, southern history, civil war history, black history, women's history.

It is dramatic, full of adventure, secrets, and the thing I liked best was feeling like I'd been hit in the stomach when things would happen to my beloved Melonie, Rosemary, Rhett, Tunnis, Bonnie Blue, etc.

I thought the book progressed well and was easily read. I don't understand what people are saying that they'd get lost between chapters or time lines- it is a common device and makes reading a pleasing challenge, I like keeping up with the author!

excellent book- good for getting cozy on the porch or on the couch and getting lost in time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished Rhett Butler's People and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised! I thought the author did a good job of going into more character development for the peripheral characters, as well as taking the story past GWTW's ending. However, with that being said, the one problem I had with the book is the ending itself- I feel as though the author took great liberties and that the story itself got somewhat fanciful. All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to any GWTW fan...it's much more cleanly written than 'Scarlett'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Gone With the Wind' has been my favorite book since I was eleven years old. I still read it every year, and fully intend on doing so. When I read 'Rhett Butler's People', I anticiapated every page, reading far into the night. Every loose end in GWTW is explained, and every small character is fully disclosed. It is more accurate than Alexandra Ripley's 'Scarlett', and I found it closer to Margaret Mitchell's style of writing. I loved 'Rhett Butler's People' and cannot wait to read it again and again. Thanks Mr. McCaig for gifting us with this pleasure!