"A completely different look at the life of Mammy (Ruth)..."
Reviewed by Dot Dittman
Posted January 11, 2015
Literature and Fiction | Fiction
I really wanted to love this book. Maybe I built up my
expectations of it a little too much as I waited for the
publication of RUTH'S JOURNEY by Donald McCaig. And I am a
sucker for spin-off books, but I like them to be firmly
rooted in the original source material. It could be that
I'm just too devoted to the original Gone with the Wind--
even with its flaws and politically incorrect stance,
because I am a little disappointed in RUTH'S JOURNEY, at
least as far as it being a prequel to Gone with the Wind.
I do admire the author for taking on this project. It had
to be difficult. His research is amazing and thorough. We
learn why Mammy (Ruth) is a kind of yes woman and why she
smiles most of the time, even though her life has been
heartbreaking--as the lives of all slaves were. We see
behind the mask she so carefully wears. Ruth is an
amazingly strong woman who bears misfortune after
My mind understands what Mr. McCaig is trying to do by
making Ruth less of a stereotype and by bringing her in
from the margins of the source book. We see her fall in
love, get married, and have a child. We get to know a more
complete person in her own right. But my heart misses the
sass of Mammy. The audacity and brashness of the original
character has been replaced by a gentle, insightful Ruth.
This isn't bad; it just is a completely different take.
yes, I get it. It's a different story.
That being said, RUTH'S JOURNEY is a beautiful piece of
historical fiction. I can imagine it as a separate
narrative that has nothing to do with the GWTW story. I
almost wish Mr. McCaig had taken that route.
The part that I do love is the fleshing out of Solange
Robillard's story. We can see where Scarlett gets her
individuality and spunk. We get a peek at Ellen's life
before Gerald and even see the beginnings of their
RUTH'S JOURNEY is good. I'm glad I read it. I just think
with the Wind is a difficult act to follow. At least for
me. I hope the author continues to write his strong
historical fiction stories. I would love to read them.
Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate, here is the
first-ever prequel to one of the most beloved and
bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The
critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People
magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of
literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days
as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.
“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island
Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of
revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an
infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French
Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child
they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.
What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped
by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life
personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a
black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily
genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s
daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom
Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston
their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally
Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy
raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of
felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller
Donald 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. But despite the cruelties of a world that
has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the
of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish
around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to
those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.
Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until
the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of
fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale
will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret
unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind.
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