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The Wind Done Gone: A Novel

The Wind Done Gone: A Novel

2.7 45
by Alice Randall

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In this daring and provocative literary parody which has captured the interest and imagination of a nation, Alice Randall explodes the world created in GONE WITH THE WIND, a work that more than any other has defined our image of the antebellum South. Taking sharp aim at the romanticized, whitewashed mythology perpetrated by this southern classic, Randall has


In this daring and provocative literary parody which has captured the interest and imagination of a nation, Alice Randall explodes the world created in GONE WITH THE WIND, a work that more than any other has defined our image of the antebellum South. Taking sharp aim at the romanticized, whitewashed mythology perpetrated by this southern classic, Randall has ingeniously conceived a multilayered, emotionally complex tale of her own - that of Cynara, the mulatto half-sister, who, beautiful and brown and born into slavery, manages to break away from the damaging world of the Old South to emerge into full life as a daughter, a lover, a mother, a victor. THE WIND DONE GONE is a passionate love story, a wrenching portrait of a tangled mother-daughter relationship, and a book that "celebrates a people's emancipation not only from bondage but also from history and myth, custom and stereotype" (San Antonio Express-News).

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
This ambitious novel has stirred up quite a bit of controversy for its poignant ridicule of one of our nation's most celebrated stories, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, which by now has achieved an almost mythic status in America's cultural history.

Many Americans are troubled by Mitchell's portrayal of life in the Antebellum South. Alice Randall read the novel as a young girl and loved it. But as the years passed, certain questions about the novel persisted in her mind and inspired the writer to imagine an alternate version of what life might actually have been like for African Americans living in the Atlanta of Gone with the Wind.

At the center of The Wind Done Gone is the beautiful and fiercely intelligent Cindy, an illegitimate mulatto woman who is unacknowledged by her father and ignored by her mother. Sold off by slaveholders, and eventually making her way back to Atlanta during Reconstruction, Cindy becomes involved with a white politician, only to leave him for a politician of her own color.

Endorsed by the likes of Quincy Jones, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Tony Earley, and Rita Mae Brown -- to name only a few -- The Wind Done Gone promises to leave an indelible mark on the literature of the early 21st century for its startling and realistic portrait of the South. Cindy's internal struggle to come to grips with her own identity as a woman of color mirrors our nation's own attempts to reckon with the horrifying and destructive legacy left behind by the institution of slavery. (Cary Goldstein)

Library Journal
Think of Margaret Mitchell's epic Gone with the Wind condensed and told from the perspectives of Mammy and the Tara slaves, and you have Randall's debut novel. This sometimes cryptic but always fascinating story is narrated by Cynara (also Cinnamon or Cindi), the daughter of a slave and a white plantation owner. As the story unfolds, we learn of Cynara's hatred of the white half-sister she calls Other and the privileges bestowed upon Other yet denied Cynara even though they are raised side by side. Both sisters vie for the attentions of Mammy (Cynara's mother and Other's nanny) as children, and for the love of the same man as adults. Through the eyes of Cynara and the other now freed slaves, we get unique perspectives of life on a Southern plantation and of the Reconstruction era. Randall, an established country songwriter, uses language and idiom to haunting and poetic effect. Fans of Toni Morrison's Beloved will enjoy this well-written historical fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/01; a trust for Margaret Mitchell's heirs has filed an injunction to stop this book's publication as a violation of copyright. Ed.] Karen Traynor, Sullivan Free Lib., Chittenango, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Songwriter Randall's audacious, highly controversial (the Margaret Mitchell estate is not amused) debut retells Gone With the Wind from the point of view of Scarlett O'Hara's mulatto half-sister. Like many a slave child, Cynara was born out of wedlock, fathered by "Planter," the white man who owned her mother. She grew up in relatively protected circumstances, able to read and write (unlike her Mammy), her life holding an off-center mirror to the experiences of her famously headstrong white half-sister, here known only as "Other." Cynara's sly sketches of Dreamy Gentleman (Ashley Wilkes), Miss Mealy Mouth (the irritatingly saintlike Melanie), and a host of other supporting characters from the original enliven this pseudo-memoir. Cynara and R. (Rhett Butler) become lovers—what Other doesn't know won't hurt her, Cynara reasons. R. turns to her in secret when his beloved little daughter dies, but he refuses to give her the child of her own she yearns for. Openly his mistress after Emancipation, Cynara travels to Europe and throughout the South, meeting Frederick Douglass, colored congressmen, and other dignitaries of the new black elite, although she discovers that the mulatto mistresses of Confederate aristocracy have little standing in Negro society. The real story here, however, is the parallel lives of the sisters, whose fates are forever entwined. Cynara offers a shrewd assessment of her white Other, who "has the vitality, vigor, and the pragmatism of a slave, and into this water you stir as much refinement as you can without leaving any grains of sugar at the bottom of the glass. She was a slave in a white woman's body, and that's a sweet drink of cold water." But Cynara, aremarkable woman in her own right, outshines her on every page. Randall's vivid prose skillfully captures the color of a mind, which is something much subtler than skin shades of brown or black or white. Sure to outrage a few diehard traditionalists—and entertain everyone else.

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Read an Excerpt


Today is the anniversary of my birth. I have twenty-eight years. This
diary and the pen I am writing with are the best gifts I got --
except maybe my cake. R. gave me the diary, the pen, and the white
frosted tiers. He also gave me emerald earbobs. I think maybe my
emeralds are just green glass; I hope maybe they be genuine peridots.
I was born May 25, 1845, at half-past seven in the morning
into slavery on a cotton farm a day’s ride from Atlanta. My father,
Planter, was the master of the place; my mother was the Mammy. My
half-sister, Other, was the belle of five counties. She was not
beautiful, but men seldom recognized this, caught up in the cloud of
commotion and scent in which she moved. R. certainly didn’t; he
married her. But then again, he just left her. Maybe that means
something to me. Maybe he’s just the unseldom one who do recognize.


If I strip the flesh off my bones, like they stripped the clothes off
my flesh in the slave market down near the battery in Charleston,
this would be my skeleton: childhood on a cotton farm; a time of
shawl-fetch slavery away in Charleston; a bare-breasted hour on an
auction block; drudge slavery as a maid in Beauty’s Atlanta brothel,
when Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia and Atlanta was
nothing; a season of candle-flame concubinage in the attic of that
house; a watery Grand Tour of Europe; and, finally, concubinage in my
own white clapboard home, with green shutters and gaslights, in the
center (near the train depot) of a fast-growing city that has become
the capital of Georgia, concubinage that persists till now. How many
miles have I traveled to come back to here?


They called me Cinnamon because I was skinny as a stick and brown.
But my name is Cynara. Now when I tell it, I say they called me
Cinnamon because I was sweet and spicy. Sweet, hot, strong, and
black -- like a good cup of coffee. Leastways, that’s how Planter
liked his coffee.
Planter used to say I was his cinnamon and Mammy was his
He said those words a day I had gotten into trouble dashing
before Other upon the stained-glass colored light that fell in rows
of blue and pink diamonds down the wide hall of the big house. If I
was ten years old, it must have been 1855. I bumped into the leg of
the Hewitt sideboard. Other was ten years old too. It was one of
those days we had back when everything seemed it would always be just
as it has always been. Everything and everyone had a place and rested
deep in it, or so it seemed that day to would-be knights and ten-year-
olds. Then I bumped into that carved leg, and the shell-shaped bonbon
dish jumped off Lady’s sideboard as if it just wanted to split into a
hundred porcelain shards on the lemon-oiled pine floor. Something had
changed, and I had changed it. Someone wanted to beat me. Mammy said
she’d beat me good, with a belt. Other lied and said she’d knocked
into the table. Said it ’cause she knew it would pain Mammy to give
me a whipping.
And sometimes Planter said it when he heard me making up
little rhymes to sing to myself. Sometimes when Mammy was putting
Other to sleep on a day pallet for a nap, he would call for me to sit
at his feet on the broad porch and sing my little songs to
him. “Cindy, come sing, come sing! Ain’t you my Cinnamon and she my
coffee?” he’d ask. And I’d be slow to go, because I knew someone
might be missing me.
On the day Planter told me I was leaving the place, I asked
him what he had meant when he said that I was his cinnamon and she
was his coffee. He said to me, “I mean a man can do without his
cinnamon but he can’t do without his coffee.” I poked my lip out. “I
mean you’re a gracious plenty.”
“I belong here?”
“Gracious plenty foreign to me child.”
R. says Planter was an Irishman and all Irish are shiftless,
lazy crackers, no matter how rich they get. He always wants me to
look outside the neighborhood for models of my deportment. He often
mentions that Georgia was once a penal colony. The first time he said
it, I didn’t know what a “penal colony” was. He says only the English
and the French know anything about gracious plenty. He says when
Planter and Mammy got together, they cooked a broth too rich for
potato-water blood.
It was Planter who sent me away, but he got the go-ahead from
Mama. It was the year his third son died, and he said it would be a
good turn for me. I was thirteen the day they rode me off. It was
Mammy was my Mama. Even though she let me go, I miss her. I
miss her every time I look into a mirror and see her eyes. Sometimes
I comb through my long springy curls and pretend that the hand
holding the comb is hers. But I don’t know what that looks like. Then
I wish I was Other, the girl whose sausage curls I’ve seen Mammy comb
and comb. I wish for the tight kinks of the comber or the glossy
sausages of the combed. I wish not to be out of the picture.
Mammy always called me Chile. She never called me soft or to
her softness. She called me to do things, usually for Other, who she
called Lamb. It was “Get dressed, Chile!” and “What’s mah Lamb gwanna

Copyright © 2001 by Alice Randall
Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Meet the Author

Alice Randall was born in Detroit and graduated from Harvard in 1981. After a start as a journalist in Washington, D.C., she moved to Nashville to become a country songwriter. The only African-American woman ever to write a number-one country song, she has had more than twenty songs recorded. She is also a screenwriter and has worked on adaptations of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Parting the Waters, and Brer Rabbit. Alice Randall is the author of The Wind Done Gone. She was awarded the Free Spirit Award in 2001 and the Literature Award of Excellence by the Memphis Black Writers Conference in 2002, and she was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award in 2002. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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The Wind Done Gone 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read both Gone with the Wind and seen the movie. I think this book gives a very interesting look into the part of life not shown in any version of Gone with the Wind or any other southern romantic book/movie of that era. I understand that this and Gone with the Wind are both fictional stories. I think that if there is enough room for a fictional romanticized version of southern life...there has to be room for a fictional version of slavery during that time as well. Although I had the knowledge of Gone with the Wind 'book/movie' before reading this book, I could still read The Wind Done Gone without trying to compare it chapter and verse to the classic. I think that is the best way to approach anything like this. I can appreciate how white people lived back then and how a lot of people (black and white)can relate to Gone with the Wind as a love story. I can also appreciate someone taking the time to try and give a little insight into how enslaved Africans and their mulatto children lived DURING THE SAME ERA. It's very easy to dismiss/get angry at this subject in literature b/c it's an uncomfortable topic-but it existed. As a black woman, married to a white man and who has researched the 8 main sides of her ancestry back to 1637-1660 in America and found 'enslaved mulattoes' on all sides of my family from the 1600's through 1900 -I admire her attempt at bringing this topic to light. I hope she has encouraged other people, whether relating their fictional story to a classic or not, to begin/continue shedding light on 'mulatto slave life'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you pick up this book and decide to read it, please leave your prejudices at the door. It is not as bad as those who hate it say, and it is not as good as those who love it say, but it is fun to read if you love southern lit, like I do. Go ahead and read it. I promise that if you do, you can go on to live a normal life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book thinking that it'd be enjoyable, but as much as I tried to understand or enjoy it, I became bored rather quickly. I was determined to stick it out. I wasn't impressed by the names she used for the characters and places of Gone With the Wind. I wouldn't read it again either. I refuse to recommend this book to anyone.
Vovo More than 1 year ago
When I was a young girl, I used to consider myself as 'obsessed' with Gone With the Wind. No other book compared. Even now, I still hold a similar belief. As any Gone With the Wind fan, I was curious to read a novel based on my absolutly favorite book. I was willing to give it a chance. That being said, I was saddened when Mammy and the O'Haras were so degraded by Ms. Randall. Margaret Mitchell was very clear when she wrote about how Mr. O'Hara was utterly besotted with his wife and how Mammy was always so meticulous with what was 'fittin'. The very idea that Mr. O'Hara and Mammy would conceive an illegitimate child is hard to process. Still, I was curious as to whether the story might smooth into cleaner waters with Ms. Randall's lackadaisical writing. Sadly, it did not. The story only went on to make Scarlett a sniveling wretch and Rhett a sexual monster. I must say, though, that Ms. Randall has a unique voice that could develope into some fabulous works. Her use of wording was very tantalizing and exotic, as was her originality in storyline.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first I was concerned that Alice Randall had betrayed the old south. As I continued to read I was forced to see and embarassed to say that I had not realized it before there was another side to the Pre Civil War old south. I really enoyed this book and felt that Alice Randall presented the other side of the coin wonderfully.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Wind Done Gone was not bad for a first book published. The story was a grabme and quite interesting. My final comment TWDG was a plot, a beginning, middle and conclusion -- I would reccommend to a mature friend. Finally, rearder's if you have nothing good to say don't say anything.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally we have the last of the missing pieces to the puzzle. Ms. Randall has offered us a not only a new/different perspective, she has also offered us a sense of value and worth for the ones who have paved the way. Maybe some of the verbage has been altered to bring about a more updated appeal than the literature of 'GWTW'. But I found the book very well written and has led my imagination to places I never thought possible. I belive that if readers are less critical and more open- minded you may find this a very interesting read. Also, the fact of knowing that there is another side of this and every story, the truth lies within. I implore you to read this book and allow yourself the pleasures of both sides.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was greatly excited by Alice Randall's Work of Art. Alice Randall shows great intellect in writing this book and in thereby showing the portrayal of how a majority of African Americans feel in this country regarding Margaret Mitchell's book. As an African American Woman growing up in Atlanta Georgia being forced to read Margaret Mitchell's book in the georgia school system, and residing in Jonesboro (tara), I obviously had lots of emotional baggage attached with 'gone with the wind' and it's impact on the way it portrayed Black African Americans. I definately did not agree with Margaret Mitchell's book because it was one-sided and did not tell the underlying truth by insulting ALL Black African Americans with her damaging feelings about Black People. I thank Alice Randall for giving my Ancestors a Voice to Speak, and for allowing their Souls to Cry Out from beyond the grave. I believe that Alice Randall exhibits true literary thinking by giving America a taste of how we(African Americans)feel about what our people endured being portrayed in a negative light instead of how they really were, which is an Extremely Strong Black People who had emotions, thoughts,feelings, desires, goals,and most of all Human Souls.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is in no way a parody, but I guess they had to stick that on the cover in order to get it published. I gobbled the book up, but it is true that to understand it, you need more than a little knowledge of the original. I thought it was wonderful and true and I think Margaret Mitchell would not have had so much of a problem with it as her estate did. Frankly, I think all the publicity did the book and the author a favor. I guess with all of the hype around the publication, I expected it to be a little more evocative, but I was only a little disappointed. I really enjoyed the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I read The Wind Done Gone, I find myself thinking ..'I didn't know that, well doesn't that explain a lot.' A throuough knowledge of the original is necessary to fully catch all the references. This book is fascinating. If I were the author of the authorized sequel, Scarlett, I would retire immediately, realizing I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I cannot help but think, had Margaret Mitchell lived into today's society, she would be equally as enthralled with her characters as I. Can't wait for the movie - Thandy Newton or Halle Berry take note. The role is yours.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had seen this book referred to as 'a parody' of Gone With the Wind, which is is not. It is a deeply affecting story written from a different perspective - that of a mulatto slave woman, who gives us a new slant on some familiar characters. I was deeply moved. I can understand why Mitchell's literary executors were annoyed; this is a much more satisfying sequel than the one they approved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think these reviews are ridiculous. It's a parody people. That does not require following the original FICTIONAL book to any specific degree with "facts", as one reviewer put it. Get a grip people. Read it for what it is, not for what you want it to be. P.A.R.O.D.Y.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GerreK More than 1 year ago
I think the negative reviews are by those who disagree with the author's premise that "the south" needs to be cleaned up from it's dirty secretive past. Cindy was slapped by "R" when she expressed this truth. Alice Randall's work is receiving the same treatment according to some of the negative comments. Cindy's voice needs to be heard. I believe that we need to be open to different interpretations in order to discern the big picture. This book is worth the time and attention needed to unravel the sad heritage we have inherited from the "peculiar institutio0n" of slavery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
prettybrowneyes More than 1 year ago
The book threw me off a little bit, but it was a slight ok with me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I heard about The Wind Done Gone, all I could think about was how much I wanted to read it. I hunted every bookstore down until I found the beautiful cover with the mulatto woman in a green dress. I was positive this was going to be a funny story, a sort of African-American behind-the-scenes of Gone With the Wind. A historical story that gave a voice to the slaves. Sad to say, Ms. Randall wrote a little differently than I had oricinally anticipated. She wrote with the hateful voice of a wronged slave-turned-prostitute. I applaud Ms. Randall's efforts to distort a classic American novel, ruin well-loved characters, and write a book focused on bringing down the work of another author. She greatly succeeded on all points.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the press releases for The Wind Done Gone as well as various interviews with Alice Randall prior to the release of this book, so it was with some excitement that I anticipated buying this book. I expected a parody. What I got instead was a mean-spirited, soulless, humorless and basically pointless account of a story that runs parallel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind. The Wind Done Gone is no parody. Alice Randall committed a direct theft of the characters we already know too well. Randall is a good writer. She has a wonderful talent for imagery and the rhythm of her language is as beautiful as a lullaby. Randall would have done better to write a book featuring characters of her own creation, rather than stealing from Margaret Mitchell. I really hated this book. It struck all the wrong chords and was entertaining only in its overreaching absurdity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am an Black woman and I loved GWTW and Scarlett. When I first heard about this book I was very intrigued and couldn't wait to read it. I got the book, read it in two days and really didn't like it. It can't compare to GWTW. I think Alice Randall has potential to be a good author but this book simply did nothing for her. The book was boring and didn't go into much detail about its characters, only Cynara. I do not recommend this book, it is a huge disappointment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Shaky at first, but as this book unfolds,it is genious! Her word selection is genious and one has to actually THINK when they read the book. I never read Gone With the Wind but this book makes me want to read it. I mean, if Cyn is the "good sister", then Other must be a Scarlet O'hara!(pun). This book seems to be showing the cleverness and subtle ruthlessness of the slaves and what they had to do to survive. Now that I understand the book, I'll read it again after reading Gone With the Wind (the movie is not the same as the book).
Guest More than 1 year ago
i had to stop reading it. it made no sense - especially if you have never read gone with the wind. alice randalls writings dont even begin to compare with margret mitchells. all her book seems to me is some wiritngs to get back at gone with the wind (dunno what for but whatever). i didnt find the book offensive but it was just a poorly written book. im not sure if i will continue reading the book or not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Naturally, being African American, I was not only interested in reading a novel that was received so many accolades by so many affluent celebraties, but was equally interested to find out what made this book so controversial. The hype is what sells this book. Sadly, I have to say I found the reading boring. It rode off the back of Gone with The Wind with no real substance. I think the author has a poetic talent and the potential of delivering better literature. This one should not have been her first - it needed more - something...
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this book and loved it.It really sheaded a more true light on Gone with the Wind. Other reveiwers speak as if everyone was truley as gitty as house wives. How do they think the work was accomplished at Tara and through the south on the blood sweat and tears of Blacks. Mammy worked and and sweated just so Scarlett could parade in front of Ashley and bat her eyes. Honestly we have to look at things from other points of view. Don't get me wrong i loved Gone With the Wind but it Protrayed slaves as this gitty lacky animals that were created for the service of whites.All i have to say is God created everyone equal and through Islam and God i've learned that. I enjoyed this book and it's Gothic Neo-slavery image lured me to read on.