Friday, 16 September 2016

Scarlett- A Gone with the Wind Sequel | A Review | #reviewfriday

                                “TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.”

I remember sitting shocked as one of the best reads of my life ended like this. Never in a million years did I expect Margaret Mitchell to end the novel at such a cliffhanger. I was literally left gaping at the back cover of Gone with the Wind as Rhett left Scarlet. 

In an interview with Yank magazine, Mitchell later said that she had no clue of what happens after that. She quoted, "For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less—difficult.” That messed me up even more. I couldn't imagine such an ending and was very very pissed, thus began my journey in search of a good sequel. I remember the hours spent surfing through fanfiction sites to no avail...and then came my hero. 

Super Dad to the rescue. He found me not one but two sequels!

The first one called Scarlett, was written by Alexandra Ripley and was more widely accepted and truth be told I found it a much better and believable sequel than the other one- Rhett Butler's People.

Book: Scarlett
Author: Alexandra Ripley
Genre: History, Romance Novel.

While the book noway near matches the original brilliance of Gone with the Wind, I very much felt that it was an brilliant attempt. The story starts off from where the first book ended and takes us back to Tara along with Scarlett. In the sequel, much of the story is told from Scarlett's point of view which goes a long way in making her a more likable character.

While old settings like Tara, Atlanta etc are revisited, Ripley also brings in a lot of new places and settings. Rhett's hometown of Charleston is brought to life as Scarlett chases after her lost husband in true Scarlett fashion. The novel also gives you a peek into Rhett's family and past life, something which Mitchell just glossed over in Gone with the Wind. Savannah is another place which comes to life under Ripley's pen-as Scarlett visits her mother's family there. New characters are introduced, new plot lines develop, romantic rivals for both Rhett and Scarlett emerge, unprecedented situations, unexpected friendships, misunderstandings and misgivings, the novel brings it all to the table.

*Spoilers Ahead*

With the new plot lines and characters, the novel also brings in much needed closure for characters like Ashley, Wade, Ella and even India. The book also introduces Scarelett as well as the readers to the Irish side of her family. She meets her great multitude of cousins in Savannah and learns more about her father's ancestry and heritage, ultimately she decides to visit Ireland to see her father's land.

The one thing I absolutely loved about the novel was 'Cat'. While I had found the character of Bonnie too selfish and self-centered (Like mother, like daughter), Cat was a combination of the best parts of Rhett and Scarlett. Also it is Cat that makes Scarlett grow up and makes her see the world with different eyes. Of all her kids, Cat's the only one who pulls out all the maternal instincts in Scarlett.  

The other major new character that is introduced is Fenton, (or I should say Lord Fenton.), an arrogant man whom at first reminds Scarlett of Rhett. Fenton soon becomes so enraptured with Cat and proposes marriage to Scarlett to have offspring's of the same caliber. While he is obviously a bigger cad than Rhett, I had almost wished for the marriage to happen because if anyone could take down Fenton a notch, it was Scarlett. Also I genuinely enjoyed the dynamic between him and Cat and somehow felt that he would have made her a good father. By then Rhett was already married and expecting a child so I had pretty much given up on a happy ending- so don't blame me for wanting Cat to have a great Dad.

While the beginning and the ending are both gripping, the novel fails to retain the reader's interest through the middle parts of the story. Scarlett's stint in Ireland is largely uninteresting. The novel is written though the course of almost five years, so a lot of things happen and at many times, the reader is pretty much left with a sense of hopelessness since the conflicts seem too un-resolvable. Rhett got remarried- I almost gave up right there (Glad I didn't though).

*Spoiler Ends*

I wouldn't say Scarlett is a perfect sequel, but it was good enough to give me the closure which I desperately needed. While the book did not receive much critical appreciation, it was certainly a commercial best seller and I can certainly see why it was so. If we do a comparison, Scarlett is eons ahead of Rhett Butler's People- which I can only describe as 'confusing' at best. Maybe I will talk about it some other time. But right now, for all the Gone with the Wind lovers, I would recommend Scarlett as a must read. It truly manages to hold onto the beauty of the old world which Mitchell created without losing the complex layers which made the prequel an evergreen novel.

Rating: 4/5

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