I have to admit, I am a fan of Gone With the Wind (1936). I know that may not be a very politically correct admission. Sure I like the movie, but Martha Mitchell's one-hit wonder introduced me to both epic novels and the genre of southern novels that I have come to love. The book is very different from the movie, much better of course, although am not a fan of some of the characterizations that are stereotypical.
I read Gone With the Wind, War and Peace, and Dr. Zhivago all in one semester in high school. It was a English course and each of these books counted as three books - I could read three for the value of nine! To this day I love epic books, historical novels, and both southern and Russian novels. My feeling is that I am attracted to what all three of these novels do. They take the issues of the times that are historic, at times horrific, and they romanticize the historical facts and introduce wonderful characters to live them out. They are also a product of their times - politically and socially.
I read Scarlett (1991) by Alexandra Ripley. I hated it and hated what was done to the characters. I won't even insert a link on this blog. Enough said.
Now I have read Donald McCaig's Rhett Butler's People (2007) and I was pleased. Not a great book, it is not a silly sequel and it is well-written and is loyal to the Mitchell's storyline and characters. It is about Butler's family and background. It fills us in on Rhett Butler's life - before, during, and after the time space that is Gone With the Wind. McCaig's Butler is true to Mitchell's Butler, as his other characters are. Scarlett is not the center of this novel, and is only part of Butler's life. Scarlett does not, thank goodness, go to Ireland to do a repetition of her life as in Ripley's book - I found that ludricrous. My favorite part of this book is the great development of the Belle character - the "fallen women with a heart of gold." Belle is wonderful. To read the parts of this book that are the same as in Gone With the Wind, only from Butler's point of view is very interesting.
If you are a Gone With the Wind fan, I don't think you will be disappointed in Rhett Butler's People. Give it a try.