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Rhett Butler's People

Rhett Butler's People

3.6 224
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


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 unfolds. 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 a onetime slave; Belle Watling, the woman for whom Rhett cared 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.

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

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Rhett Butler's People

By Donald McCaig

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2007 Stephens Mitchell Trusts
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2848-9


Affairs of Honor

One hour before sunrise, twelve years before the war, a closed carriage hurried through the Carolina Low Country. The Ashley River road was pitch-black except for the coach's sidelights, and fog swirled through the open windows, moistening the passengers' cheeks and the backs of their hands.

"Rhett Butler, damn your cross-grained soul." John Haynes sagged in his seat.

"As you like, John." Butler popped the overhead hatch to ask, "Are we near? I wouldn't wish to keep the gentlemen waiting."

"We comin' down the main trunk now, Master Rhett." Although Hercules was Rhett's father's racehorse trainer and Broughton's highest-ranking servant, he'd insisted on driving the young men.

Rhett had warned, "When he learns you've helped, Langston will be angry."

Hercules had stiffened. "Master Rhett, I knowed you when you was just a child. Was me, Hercules, put you up on your first horse. You and Mr. Haynes tie your horses behind. I'll be drivin' the rig tonight."

John Haynes's plump cheeks belied his uncommonly determined chin. His mouth was set in an unhappy line.

Rhett said, "I love these marshes. Hell, I never wanted to be a rice planter. Langston would go on about rice varieties or negro management and I'd not hear a word for dreaming about the river." Eyes sparkling, he leaned toward his friend, "I'd drift through the fog, steering with an oar. One morning, I surprised a loggerhead sliding down an otter slide — sliding for the pure joy of it. John, have you ever seen a loggerhead turtle smile?

"I don't know how many times I tried to slip past a sleeping anhinga without waking her. But that snaky head would pop from beneath her wing, sharp-eyed, not groggy in the least, and quick as that" — Rhett snapped his fingers — "she'd dive. Marsh hens weren't near as wary. Many's a time I'd drift 'round a bend and hundreds of 'em would explode into flight. Can you imagine flying through fog like this?"

"You have too much imagination," Rhett's friend said.

"And I've often wondered, John, why you are so cautious. For what great purpose are you reserving yourself?"

When John Haynes rubbed his spectacles with a damp handkerchief, he smeared them. "On some other day, I'd be flattered by your concern."

"Oh hell, John, I'm sorry. Fast nerves. Is our powder dry?"

Haynes touched the glossy mahogany box cradled in his lap. "I stoppered it myself."

"Hear the whippoorwill?"

The rapid pounding of the horses' hooves, the squeak of harness leather, Hercules crying, "Pick 'em up, you rascals, pick 'em up," the three-note song of the whippoorwill. Whippoorwill — hadn't John heard something about Shad Watling and a whippoorwill?

"I've had a good life," Rhett Butler said.

Since John Haynes believed his friend's life had been a desperate shambles, he bit his tongue.

"Some good times, some good friends, my beloved little sister, Rosemary ..."

"What of Rosemary, Rhett? Without you, what will become of her?"

"You must not ask me that!" Rhett turned to the blank black window. "For God's sake. If you were in my place, what would you do?"

The words in sturdy John Haynes's mind were, I would not be in your place, but he couldn't utter them, although they were as true as words have ever been.

Rhett's thick black hair was swept back off his forehead; his frock coat was lined with red silk jacquard, and the hat on the seat beside him was beaver fur. John's friend was as vital as any man John had ever known, as alive as wild creatures can be. Shot dead, Rhett Butler would be as emptied out as a swamp-lion pelt hung up on the fence of the Charleston market.

Rhett said, "I am disgraced already. Whatever happens, I can't be worse disgraced." His sudden grin flashed. "Won't this give the biddies something to gossip about?"

"You've managed that a time or two."

"I have. By God, I've given respectable folk a satisfying tut-tut. Who has served Charleston's finger pointers better than I? Why, John, I have become the Bogeyman." He intoned solemnly, "'Child, if you persist in your wicked ways, you'll end up just like Rhett Butler!'"

"I wish you'd stop joking," John said quietly.

"John, John, John ..."

"May I speak candidly?"

Rhett raised a dark eyebrow. "I can't prevent you."

"You needn't go through with this. Have Hercules turn 'round — we'll enjoy a morning ride into town and a good breakfast. Shad Watling is no gentleman and you needn't fight him. Watling couldn't find one Charleston gentleman to second him. He pressed some hapless Yankee tourist into service."

"Belle Watling's brother has a right to satisfaction."

"Rhett, for God's sake, Shad's your father's overseer's son. His employee!" John Haynes waved dismissively. "Offer some monetary compensation. ..." He paused, dismayed. "Surely you're not doing this ... this thing ... for the girl?"

"Belle Watling is a better woman than many who condemn her. Forgive me, John, but you mustn't impugn my motives. Honor must be satisfied: Shad Watling told lies about me and I have called him out."

John had so much to say, he could hardly talk. "Rhett, if it hadn't been for West Point ..."

"My expulsion, you mean? That's merely my latest, most flamboyant disgrace." Rhett clamped his friend's arm. "Must I enumerate my disgraces? More disgraces and failures than ..." He shook his head wearily. "I am sick of disgraces. John, should I have asked another to second me?"

"Damn it!" John Haynes cried. "Damn it to hell!"

John Haynes and Rhett Butler had become acquainted at Cathecarte Puryear's Charleston school. By the time Rhett left for West Point, John Haynes was established in his father's shipping business. After Rhett's expulsion and return, Haynes saw his old friend occasionally on the streets of town. Sometimes Rhett was sober, more often not. It troubled John to see a man with Rhett's natural grace reeking and slovenly.

John Haynes was one of those young Southerners from good families who take up the traces of civic virtue as if born to them. John was a St. Michaels vestryman and the St. Cecilia Society's youngest ball manager. Though John envied Rhett's spirit, he never accompanied Rhett and his friends — "Colonel Ravanel's Sports" — on their nightly routs through Charleston's brothels, gambling hells, and saloons.

Consequently, John had been astonished when Butler came to the wharfside offices of Haynes & Son seeking John's assistance in an affair of honor.

"But Rhett, your friends? Andrew Ravanel? Henry Kershaw? Edgar Puryear?"

"Ah, but John, you'll be sober."

Few men or women could resist Rhett Butler's what-the-hell grin, and John Haynes didn't.

Perhaps John was dull. He never heard about amusing scandals until Charleston society was tiring of them. When John repeated a clever man's witticism, he invariably misspoke. If Charleston's mothers thought John Haynes a "good catch," maidens giggled about him behind their fans. But John Haynes had twice seconded affairs of honor. When duty came knocking, it found John Haynes at home.

Broughton Plantation's main trunk was a broad earthen dike separating its rice fields from the Ashley River. The carriage lurched when it quit the trunk to turn inland.

John Haynes had never felt so helpless. This thing — this ugly, deadly thing — would go forward whatever he might do. Honor must be satisfied. It wasn't Hercules driving the team; it was Honor's bony hands on the lines. It wasn't .40caliber Happoldt pistols in the mahogany box; it was Honor — ready to spit reproaches. A tune sang in John's head: "I could not love thee Cecilia, loved I not honor more" — what a stupid, stupid song! Shad Watling was the best shot in the Low Country.

They turned into a brushy lane so infrequently traveled that Spanish moss whisked the carriage roof. Sometimes, Hercules lifted low-hanging branches so the rig could pass beneath.

With a start, John Haynes recalled the story of Shad Watling and a whippoorwill.

"Ah," Rhett mused. "Can you smell it? Marsh perfume: cattails, myrtle, sea aster, marsh gas, mud. When I was a boy, I'd get in my skiff and disappear for days, living like a red indian." Rhett's smile faded with his reverie. "Let me beg one last favor. You know Tunis Bonneau?"

"The free colored seaman?"

"If you see him, ask him if he remembers the day we sailed to Beaufort. Ask him to pray for my soul."

"A free colored?"

"We were boys on the river together."

Indeterminate gray light was filtering into the carriage. Rhett looked out. "Ah, we have arrived."

John consulted his pocket hunter. "Sunrise in twenty minutes."

The field of honor was a three-acre pasture edged with gloomy cypresses and moss-bedecked live oaks. The pasture vanished in the fog, inside which a voice was crying hoarsely, "Sooey! Soo cow! Soo cow!"

Rhett stepped down from the carriage, chafing his hands. "So. This is my destination. When I was a boy dreaming of glories awaiting me, I never dreamed of this."

Cattle bawled inside the fog. "We wouldn't want to shoot a cow." Rhett stretched. "My father would be furious if we shot one of his cows."

"Rhett ..."

Rhett Butler laid a hand on John Haynes's shoulder. "I need you this morning, John, and I trust you to arrange matters properly. Please spare me your sound, kindly meant advice."

John swallowed his advice, wishing he hadn't remembered about Shad Watling and the whippoorwill: After Langston Butler built Broughton's grand manor house, his overseer, Isaiah Watling, moved his family into the original Butler home, which was convenient to the rice fields and negro quarters. Huge live oaks, which had been saplings when the Butlers first arrived in the Low Country, shaded the small, plain farmhouse.

Nesting in a live oak, that whippoorwill welcomed them from twilight until dawn.

Apparently, Belle, the Watling girl, thought the bird was seeking a mate. Her mother, Sarah, said the bird was grieving.

The question of whether the bird was flirting or weeping was mooted at daybreak, not long after they moved in, when a shot blasted through the house. When his mother rushed into his bedroom, Shad Watling's smoking pistol lay on the windowsill. "Fool bird won't rise me up no more," Shad Watling grunted.

In poor light at sixty paces, Shad Watling had shot the tiny whippoorwill's head off its body.

John Haynes asked Rhett, "You've heard about that whippoorwill?"

"Just a yarn, John." Rhett scratched a match on his boot sole.

"Shad Watling has killed before, Rhett."

The match sputtered and flared as Rhett lit his cigar. "But only negroes and men of his class."

"Do you believe your gentle birth will turn a bullet?"

"Why, yes," Rhett said solemnly. "Hell yes! Gentle birth's got to be good for something!"

"Comes somebody," Hercules spoke from his elevated seat.

Breathing hard, a young man emerged from the fog.

His frock coat was folded over his arm and his trouser knees were wet where he'd stumbled. "Darn cows," he confided. He shifted his jacket and offered his hand to John Haynes, then thought better of it and made an awkward bow instead. "Tom Jaffery. Amity, Massachusetts. At your service, gentlemen."

"Well, Tom." Rhett smiled. "It seems your Charleston visit will be a memorable one."

Jaffery was two or three years younger than Rhett and John. "They'll never believe this in Amity."

"Lurid tales, Tom. Lurid tales are the South's principal export. When you describe us to your friends, remark the devilishly handsome, gallant Rhett Butler." Rhett's brow furrowed thoughtfully. "If I were telling the tale, I wouldn't mention the cows."

"Has your principal arrived?" John asked the young Yankee.

Tom Jaffery gestured at the fog bank. "Watling and that Dr. Ward, too. They don't care for each other."

John Haynes took the younger man's arm, walking him out of Rhett's earshot. "Mr. Jaffery, have you seconded these affairs before?"

"No, sir. We don't hardly do this kind of thing in Amity. I mean, my grandfather might have done it, but nowadays we don't. I'm a novice, so to speak. My aunt Patience passed to her Heavenly Reward and she bequeathed me a sum, so I set out to see the country. Tom, I says to myself, if not now, for goodness' sake, when? So there I was, admiring your Charleston harbor, which is, if I might say so, every bit the equal of our famous Boston harbor. Anyway, there I was when Mr. Watling approached me and asked was I a gentleman, and I said I certainly hoped so. When Mr. Watling asked if I would second him, I thought, Tom, you've come to see the country, and see the country you shall. I'll never get a chance like this in Amity."

John Haynes didn't tell the younger man that Shad Watling's choosing a Yankee stranger to second him was a calculated insult.

"Are you familiar with your duties?"

"We seconds make sure everything happens regular."

John Haynes eyed the young Yankee thoughtfully. "Seeking reconciliation between the principals is our primary duty," he said with the regret of the man who has failed that duty.

"Oh, my principal isn't contemplatin' reconciliation. My principal says he anticipates shootin' Mr. Butler in the heart. He and Mr. Butler are old acquaintances."

"It will be light soon. We generally let sunrise be our signal."

"Sunrise suits you, suits us."

"When the sun comes over the horizon, the gentlemen choose their pistols. As the challenged party, your man chooses first. Shall we load now?"

John Haynes braced the mahogany box on the carriage fender, unlatched it, and removed a pistol. The sleek knurled butt felt alive in his hand, as if he'd clutched a water moccasin. "As you see, the pistols are identical. While you observe, I'll charge one pistol. You will charge the second."

John poured powder, set a round lead ball into an oiled cloth patch, and rammed it home. He placed a cap under the hammer and eased the hammer to half cock.

"They'll never believe this back home," Thomas Jaffery said.

The morning gathered light, the fog tore into streamers, and two ghostly vehicles swam into sight across the meadow: a one-horse chaise and a mule-drawn farm wagon.

Rhett Butler untied his horse from behind the carriage and pressed his face against the beast's powerful neck. "You're not frightened, are you, Tecumseh? Don't be. Nothing's going to hurt you."

"This meadow, John — they grew indigo here in my grandfather's day. There's a pond in the woods where pintails hatch their young. Muskrats are fond of young pintails, and sometimes a brood will be paddling along, until one is pulled under — so swiftly, they don't make a flurry. Our trunk master, Will, trapped muskrats here."

"Rhett, we seconds will speak with Watling. What apology will you accept?"

Rhett squeezed his eyes shut obstinately. "Shad Watling claims I am father of his sister's child. I have said Watling is a liar. If Watling admits his lie, I will withdraw my challenge."

"Will you offer compensation? Money so the girl can go somewhere to have her baby?"

"If Belle needs money, I will give her money. Money has nothing to do with this."

"As your friend, Rhett ..."

"John, John ..." Rhett muffled his face in Tecumseh's neck. "A friend would help me finish this thing."

Shadrach Watling's farm wagon was heaped with broken wheels, hubs, and rims. "Morning, Mr. Jaffery, Mr. Haynes. I see you brung Butler."

"Shad ..."

"It'll be 'Mr. Watling' today."

"Mr. Watling, I trust we can reach an accommodation."

"B'lieve Butler 'commodated my sister. B'lieve I'll 'commodate him."

"When Rhett Butler treated you as a gentleman, he complimented you."

Shad spat. "I'm thinkin' of westering. Goddamn, I'm sick of the Low Country. Rich bastards and niggers. Niggers and rich bastards. I got cousins in Missouri."

"Wherever you go, you'll want money. If your sister, Belle, were to go with you, the scandal would die."

Watling chuckled. "Butler offering me money?"

"No, sir. I am."

"All comes down to money, don't it?" Watling spat again.

Shadrach Watling was a beardless, thickset man. "Naw, not this time. I got a grudge against Butler. Even though Pa whipped Belle good, she never would say 'twas Rhett topped her. Ain't no nevermind. I'm craving to put a bullet in Butler. He weren't no 'count as the Young Master and I hear he weren't no 'count as a soldier boy, neither. Butler ain't worth a bootful of warm piss."

Shad Watling eyed the river. "Gonna be light directly. I got four busted wheels for the wheelwright, and he starts his day early. Bein's I'm the challenged man, I'll be namin' the distance. Figure fifty paces'll be far enough for me to hit and him to miss. I wouldn't want be nicked by no stray ball." His stubby, stained teeth glistened in silent laughter.

Swaddled in thick woolen robes, the surgeon was snoring in his buggy. When John Haynes tapped his boot toe, Franklin Ward opened his eyes and yawned. "Ah. Our business ..." He unbundled, stepped down, and faced away; the stink of his urine made John Haynes's nose twitch. The doctor wiped his fingers on his coattails.

Dr. Ward offered his hand to Rhett, "Ah, the patient, I presume!"

Rhett grinned. "You have appliances for extracting the bullet, Doctor? Probes? Bandages?"

"Sir, I studied in Philadelphia."

"Doubtless, Philadelphia is an excellent city to have studied in."


Excerpted from Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig. Copyright © 2007 Stephens Mitchell Trusts. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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.

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.

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Rhett Butler's People 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 224 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!