May 8, 2010

About Books Blog 18: Scarlett: The Sequel To Margret Mitchell's "Gone With The Wind"


Author: Alexandra Ripley
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Related Reviews: Gone with the Wind 

Favorite Line

"Happy is the best way to be because then you can let other people be happy, too. Their own way."


After several failed attempts to win back Rhett's love, Scarlett finds solace in the love of her Irish relatives.

What I Thought Of This Book

I read many statements on the internet about how terrible the novel Scarlett was. I had seen the miniseries adaptation and loved it. I got curious about the events in the book. Was it as bad as people said it was? I figured that I should read it and see for myself.

The question you are all asking is, was Scarlett as good as Gone with the Wind? Well no. I didn't expect that that it would be. I'm not sure any sequel to Gone with the Wind  written by someone other than Margret Mitchell would match the first story. Of course, the writing styles in the two books are different. They have similar themes. However, Scarlett does not have the Civil War drama the Gone with the Wind  has. Not to say that this sequel doesn't have its share of political standpoints, considering the lead character lives in Ireland for a good portion of the book. I would say that the novel Scarlett primarily centers on emotional and social journeys. One might be fooled into thinking that not much is happening in the story. If you can look below that surface, you see that the characters, much like real people, are merely taking their time to come upon the big life revelations.

I had a few qualms with the novel. It had a few slow points. In the middle of the book, I wanted to know more of what was going on with Rhett. I know the novel is named Scarlett, so the novel is reasonably focused her. Still, it was weird to hear about his life though other people. The end of the novel felt rushed. I didn't feel that the characters got a chance to interact the way they should have, because of all the craziness that occurred in the final two chapters. My last issue has more to do with me than the actual writing. I am extremely squeamish when it comes to childbirth. Thus, the birth scene was truly horrifying for me. Eww...I know I'm being juvenile, but just thinking about it makes me cringe.

Aside from these issues, I liked many things about the book. It was well researched in terms of history. I enjoyed how she incorporated the lifestyles and cultures of the different places Scarlett traveled in to the story.

I liked how Ripley captured the personalities of the characters from the previous book. She might have mellowed Scarlett and Rhett's fire a little. Yet, they were still the lovable, frustrating, fools that they always have been. In my opinion, they needed to mellow a bit to make something other than horrible fights occur. It seems like when one-half of this couple is ready to be in a relationship the other is not. Good grief.

Ripley added well-rounded new characters. The author had a way of describing new characters that was amusing and informative. Some of the main characters' family and friends were a tad annoying in a way that only shows good characterization. I have always disliked Scarlett's sister Suellen, but her grandfather and aunts might take the cake in terms of trying personalities. I didn't really care for Rhett's brother and sister either. Yep, they just have very aggravating siblings. Ha ha. I adored most of Scarlett's relatives and acquaintances in Ireland though.

I think the best thing about the story is that Scarlett finally becomes a grown-up. She learns to be comfortable with herself, and to love others unconditionally. Thank goodness. I say better late than never. I thought she was such a selfish childish character in Gone with the Wind. I guess we can forgive her a little, since most of the people she knows and loves either leave or die on her in both books. Man, that chick has bad luck.

I found Scarlett an enjoyable read. I suppose it has a few melodramatic and unrealistic moments, but why would you read fiction if it was totally realistic? It is not the best book ever written, but it is not as heinous as some reviews have stated. If you love Gone with the Wind  I think you should at least take Scarlett for a spin.

Oh, I almost forgot to say how much I love the book's cover. The multi-colored petticoats make me smile.

Facts I Found Interesting

I hope I'm not being morbid, but I found the author's obituary very interesting. You have to admit it offers interesting insights in to her life and works. I found the facts stated in it far better than any biography that I found about her on the internet.

The Movie

The big plot points from the novel are used in the film, but on a whole, it's an entirely different story. They cut some characters out and enlarged the parts of some characters. There are a few extra sub-plots. The whole back half of the movie where you really start to notice the differences. The changes don't bother me at all, but maybe that's because I watched the film first. If anything, I think the screenwriters made the story better. They brought closure to many of the character relationships, where I wanted closure in the book. They also made the characters' choices make more since. There were some scenes from the book that I wish had made it in to the film, but they weren't extremely important to the story.

The film has wonderful actors. I think they all performed very well considering they had to live up to the first film. What cracks me up is that Scarlett, our American heroine, never ends up being played by an American actress. Joanne Whalley-Kilmer is and English actress, and so was Vivian Leigh. Weirdly ironic. Anyway, I love the miniseries to pieces. It's is six hours long, so if you want to watch it in one setting you might want to save it for your day off.
Music To Read By

Favorite Albums

This book was a bit of a musical extravaganza for me. Since I had watched the movie first, I knew how of gear my musical choices. I was able to make a tentative playlist for the book early on that I could listen to while reading.

I had so many favorites. I loved The Break Up by Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson, Little Voice by Sara Bareilles, Battle Studies by John Mayer, Stereotype A by Cibo Matto, Eye of the Telescope by KT Tunstall, Scream by Chris Cornell, and Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple. All were favorites because the songs deal either with rocky relationships or dealing with obstacles. 

By the way, I totally didn't do the Scarlett Johansson thing on purpose. It's neat that she spells her name the same way though. It's a little vexing as well. Every time I search something on this book I have to weed through Scarlett Johansson stuff. Strangely, I almost picked Rhett Miller's cover of Girl for the playlist. I thought that would be pushing it. Plus, I realized Girl would possibly be better for Great Expectations than for Scarlett.

Working on this playlist actually made me want to add some songs to my Gone with the Wind playlist. I know I'm crazy, that playlist had so many songs already. I figured what the heck it’s my blog.

Scarlett Playlist

Missing You - Jem
Putting The Damage On - Tori Amos
Total Eclipse of The Heart - Bonnie Tyler
Come 'Round Soon - Sara Bareilles
Two Drink Minimum - Chris Cornell
Criminal - Fiona Apple
Special - Garbage
Love Is A Battlefield - Pat Benatar
Brick by Boring Brick - Paramore
Lint of Love - Cibo Matto
Wicked Ways - Garbage
Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
With or Without You - U2
Happier - A Fine Frenzy
First Love - Adele
O Sailor - Fiona Apple
The Fairy Ring - David Arkenstone
I Should've Known Better - Nickel Creek
Red, Red, Red - Fiona Apple
Don't Think Of Me - Dido
War of My Life - John Mayer
Baby Mine - Alison Krauss
 Tomorrow Is A Long Time - Nickel Creek
 Miniature Disasters - KT Tunstall
Cherish The Ladies - David Arkenstone
I Don't Know What To Do - Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson
The Winner Takes It All - ABBA
White Flag - Dido
Fair Ireland - Peter, Paul, and Mary
Not Just A Woman - Rob Thomas

The embed for the player repeats some songs twice. Just ignore it as I do.

Wow. This was hard to review without spoilers. I had trouble organizing my thoughts on it. I'm not sure I managed to keep it totally spoiler free, but I think it still turned out okay.

I'm very excited. I'm I've got this review out today, and I finished a book last Sunday and a book on Friday. Just when I was starting to think I didn't have time to read. I guess I was wrong. Ha Ha. See you all later. Keep it shiny!

Next About Books Blog: Comic Book Tattoo Tales Inspired By Tori Amos

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