Went to the city. Read a good book.
So someone writing this blog post just had a pretty big birthday. One of those magic ones that ends in 0 (and does NOT start with 5 thank you very much). As a present, my husband said he’d take me anywhere (in the US) I wanted to go. After mulling things over for 5’s of minutes, I chose Charleston. I have been a huge fan of Gone with the Wind since I first saw the movie in fourth grade and then proceeded to read the book. Since I’ve already been to and through Atlanta, the next logical stop was Charleston. Home of Rhett Butler. And Fort Sumter. After Gone with the Wind, I went through a whole Civil War phase, which coincided with the release of Scarlett, the sequel to Gone with the Wind written by Alexandra Ripley. After devouring that tome, I moved on the other works by Ms. Ripley.
Her first historical novel, Charleston, was a bestseller and completely captured my imagination. The Tradds and the Barony and St. Michael’s and Meeting Street were all things I wanted to see. As a Yankee, growing up in semi-rural, completely-landlocked Indiana, the romantic notion of a glamorous coastal city steeped in southern tradition and elegance never completely left me. Some of Ripley’s other books – like New Orleans Legacy and From Fields of Gold – were more enjoyable, but there was just something about the city of Charleston that stuck with me.
Here’s the bad news: Nashville Public Library no longer owns any of Alexandra Ripley’s books, outside of Scarlett. Sad, right? The good news is that several hundred of my library friends do, and they’d be happy to share with you through Interlibrary Loan.
If you would like to go down the rabbit hole and read everything related to Gone with the Wind, in addition to Scarlett, check out:
The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall (written from the point of view of Scarlett’s mulatto half-sister, Cynara)
Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig (telling Rhett’s side of the story)
Ruth’s Journey also by Donald McCaig (this one focuses on Mammie and her story)
My very goodest friend and fellow blogger, Laurie, also recommends Mary Alice Monroe’s Beach House series, Pat Conroy’s books, like South of Broad, and Anne Rivers Siddons who loves to write about Sullivan’s Island if you are interested in reading more about Charleston. I’ve read (and loved) some Siddons, but the rest are all new to me. If you find one you love, post in the comments so we all know what not to miss.
I’ve loved Alexandra Ripley’s books for more than half of my life. I’m so glad I finally got to see where they were born. For some reason, I couldn’t find Rhett, though. :(