Thursday, March 26, 2009

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley


Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley


I believe most people have read or at least know of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind, and I'm sure some know about Alexandra Ripley's wonderful sequel, entitled Scarlett.


Now I know that as with most sequels written by someone other than the original author, you'd have people either absolutely loving it, or absolutely hating it.


Fortunately for me, I'm one of the former. I love Alexandra Ripley's Scarlett, and in fact, I love Scarlett more than GWTW! (*ducks*)


Of course, I fell in love with Scarlett in GWTW, I love her strength of character, her selfishness and how manipulative she was, how she did whatever she could to ensure a better life for herself...


I mean, which of us haven't done that or wanted to do that at least once in our lives. The truth is, I would manipulate others in a heartbeat if it meant my own survival. I love that she was so terribly flawed as a human, and don't forget she was so young, only a teen when the war started and she got married and then had to take care of her family.


In Ripley's Scarlett, she's still the same strong character, with a terrible temper and still as manipulative as ever. But she grows up. She's not as selfish as she once was, or as childish, and she definitely learns, the hard way, that she can't always get what she wants. But she grows up and learn to let things be. She's still terribly flawed, but what I love about Ripley's Scarlett, is that she allows Scarlett room for improvement.


Just as we all grow up and see the folly of our ways in our younger years, Scarlett grows up too. We don't become perfect overnight, and neither does Scarlett, but we all improve, or at least, we try to. And Scarlett really does try.


I've read Scarlett probably about five or six times now, but I always enjoy it every time I re-read it. So much so that this time, I finished reading this 884-page book in 2 days! I can't help it, it's one of my 'favoritest' book in the world!


alyson rae said...

I finished GWtW recently, and gave myself a month to breathe before picking up a sweet hardcover edition ($7.50!) of Scarlett from a used bookstore. I was a little torn about reading it, knowing that Mitchell had flatly refused to provide a sequel, and was nervous to see what would become of her beautifully crafted characters in the hands of an author in the nineties.

I'm actually grateful for the terrible cold I've had this week, as it allowed me to blast through Scarlett in four days flat, while convalescing.

Afterwards, I checked out wikipedia, as I do after reading any book - and read that it had been critically panned. Simple googling provided me with said nasty reviews, including a particularly harsh one from Janet Maslin at the New York Times, as well as several GWtW fan blogs.

Betty, your review hit the nail on the head. It was wonderful to see Scarlett mature and find redemption, and it felt very organic and well paced. Where many reviews cried that her character had been immediately softened, I felt that her behavior in the first part of the sequel showed every bit the strong-willed, shallow brat we loved in the original. But her ascent to The O'Hara was her graduation from the school of hard knocks, and an inadvertent realization of her becoming the Great Lady she always vapidly assumed she'd become, as well as the lover o' the land her father assumed she would learn to be.

While I do have a few bones to pick (a tiny bit of modern slang that trips up the reading, and frequently more heavy on metaphor than Mitchell's original), "Scarlett" fulfilled my curiosity in what happened to such an astonishing character, and I'm really glad you agree!

I can't say I liked one better than the other, but as a woman who was a self-obsessed punk in her twenties that lived to embrace the wisdoms of her thirties, I can say that I'm proud of Ripley for giving our heroine a chance to grow up. It would have been a shame to leave her on her own at twenty-eight with a simple "My dear, I don't give a damn"...

Betty said...
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