Rhett, Scarlett and Friends Prepare for Yet Another Encore

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It’s taken 12 years, three authors and one rejected manuscript, but tomorrow will be another day when “Rhett Butler’s People,” the second sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind,” is published this fall.

Less a conventional sequel than a retelling from Rhett Butler’s point of view, the new book, to be published by St. Martin’s Press in November, is written by Donald McCaig, a former advertising copywriter turned Virginia sheep farmer who has written well-reviewed novels about the Civil War.

The book, at a little over 400 pages, will be a slip of a novel compared with the original, which ran more than a thousand pages. “Rhett Butler’s People” covers the period from 1843 to 1874, nearly two decades more than are chronicled in “Gone With the Wind.” Readers will learn more about Rhett Butler’s childhood on a rice plantation; his relationship with Belle Watling, the brothel madam; and his experiences as a blockade runner in Charleston, S.C.

Most of all, readers will get inside Rhett’s head as he meets and courts Scarlett O’Hara in one of the most famous love affairs of all time.

With the publication of “Rhett Butler’s People,” St. Martin’s will at last have the chance to begin recouping the $4.5 million advance it agreed to pay the Mitchell estate for the right to publish a second sequel. The publisher has high hopes for the book’s commercial prospects, with an anticipated first print run of more than a million copies.

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