This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the release of the film Gone with the Wind, based on Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The film received ten Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actress award to Hattie McDaniel for her portrayal of Mammy, thus making McDaniel the first African-American to win an Oscar. And yet, on the night of the ceremony, McDaniel and her escort were required to sit at a segregated table for two, apart from the rest of the Gone With the Wind cast and the film industry.
Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig, the authorized prequel to Margaret Mitchell’s beloved novel, and this time Mammy is front and center. Ruth is the name McCaig chose to give the character of Mammy, and it’s a very fitting one. Though now we only use its opposite (ruthless) in English, the word ruth means having sympathy for the troubles of others, taking care of those in need. What better name to represent the character of Mammy? This remarkable novel follows Ruth from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War, ending just as Gone With the Wind begins.
Writer Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel March, which reimagined the story of Louise May Alcott’s Little Women, another beloved novel set around the American Civil War. Ms. Brooks says: “Exquisitely imagined, deeply researched, Donald McCaig’s Ruth’s Journey brings to the foreground the most enigmatic and fascinating figure in Gone with the Wind. This is a brave work of literary empathy by a writer at the height of his powers, who demonstrates a magisterial understanding of the period, its clashing cultures and its heartbreaking crises.”
If you love Gone With the Wind and want more of the story, or are looking for an epic, satisfying read set against a fascinating period of American history, Ruth’s Journey is a book to treasure.
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About the Author
Donald McCaig is the award-winning author of Canaan as well as Jacob’s Ladder, designated “the best Civil War novel ever written” by the Virginia Quarterly. It won the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction. He was chosen by the Margaret Mitchell estate to write Rhett Butler’s People, an authorized sequel to Gone with the Wind. He lives on a sheep farm in the mountains near Williamsville, Virginia, where he writes fiction, essays, and poetry, and trains and trials sheep dogs.