Bil Browning

Gone With the Wind Prequel Will Focus on Mammy

Filed By Bil Browning | April 01, 2014 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Donald McCaig, Gone With the Wind, Mammy, Margaret Mitchell, Rhett Butler, Scarlett O'Hara

hattie-mcdaniel-gone-with-the-wind.jpgI've always loved Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone With the Wind as well as the classic movie version starring Vivien Leigh, so news that author Donald McCaig is penning a prequel is incredibly exciting. Even better, the book will feature the backstory behind one of the novel's most important and woefully underappreciated characters, Mammy.

Authorised by the Mitchell Estate, the novel is billed as a prequel to Gone With the Wind, and will see McCaig give Mammy both a name - Ruth - and a past. It will be published by Atria in the US in October and will, said the publisher, be "a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will [in which McCaig] reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, and a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself".
Peter Borland, editorial director of Atria, told the New York Times that McCaig "felt that Mammy was such a fascinating and crucial character to the book" that "he wanted to flesh out a story of her own", adding: "What's really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it's a book that respects and honours its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed."
McCaig told the New York Times that he wanted to tell the story of Ruth because there are "three major characters in Gone With the Wind, but we only think about two of them."

"Scarlett and Rhett are familiar, but when it comes to the third, we don't know where she was born, if she was ever married, if she ever had children," he said. "Indeed, we don't even know her name."

Now let's just hope that the book is better than Alexandra Ripley's 1991 godawful sequel Scarlett. Ripley should definitely have stuck with Mitchell's stance on what happened after the original novel ended. Asked what became of Scarlett and Rhett, she replied that she "didn't give a damn."

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