by Donald McCaig |
REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT
McCaig, author of the Civil War novel Jacob's Ladder, was handpicked to extend the saga begun in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 Gone With the Wind—a daunting act to follow since it's one of the most beloved novels of all time (and a '91 sequel, Alexandra Ripley's critically panned Scarlett, has sold some 6 million copies). McCaig has fashioned a "parallel" story seen through Rhett's eyes, beginning with his childhood on a Charleston rice plantation, where he clashed with his father and formed a life-altering friendship with a freed black man. We learn details of Rhett's mostly noble history with the madam Belle Watling, an association that made Scarlett's green eyes flash with envy in Mitchell's epic. Like the original, this is a melodrama—children perish, lovers die, homes burn. McCaig is more persuasive on the battlefront than in the boudoir; one never feels the charge between the principles that Mitchell conjured. Still, this is a must-read for GWTW fans, who will learn that Scarlett was right (we're not telling how) when she said tomorrow would be another day.