I was very excited to receive Rhett Butler's People from my friend Jenn for Christmas. Learning Rhett's side of the story seemed like a great new take on Gone With the Wind.
Rhett Butler's People tells the story of Rhett Butler from an impetiuous youth to shortly after the ending of Gone With the Wind. It also tells the story in fragments of various family members and friends involved with Rhett through the years including the back story of Belle Watling and Rhett's sister Rosemary.
While it was great to get a different perspective on Gone With the Wind, I think my biggest mistake was reading this directly after reading Gone With the Wind again. McCaig has a rather abrupt writing style where he moves from piece to piece of writing, without filling in the details. It was rather jarring reading it at first (especially after Mitchell's great original description), but I got used to it. While the characters in the original novel are described in great detail, the characters in this novel were rather flat, especially the supporting "People" such as Rosemary and Colonel Andrew Ravenal. I wanted to care, but often found myself not caring, waiting to hear about Rhett again. There were many small details that were not correct as compared to the original novel, which was quite annoying. Also, they explain why Rhett was expelled from his family, but there was nothing about taking a carriage ride with a lady and refusing to marry her . . . the original story from the original novel.
What I wanted from this novel was more about Rhett and his adventures. We learn about how in his youth he traveled around the world to exciting locations and made money as almost a secondary, by the way . . . I wanted to know more details about this - and not quick stories about his friends and sister. I liked the ending and thought it was very appropriate. I just wish it would have lasted for a longer period after the ending of the original novel.
One major problem I had with the book was that McCaig decided to "white wash" Rhett. All of the sudden, Rhett is a flaming abolitionist growing up in South Carolina. There is no reason from the original novel to believe this. It is more likely that Rhett was not an abolitionist and was more a man of the time. I know it's more P.C. to make him one now, but it is not historically accurate.
I recommend this book for anyone who is obsessed with all things Gone With the Wind like me, but DO NOT read it directly after reading Gone with the Wind. It is worth a read, especially for the ending. I hope that someone else writes more about the adventures of Rhett someday.