The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall

In this “unauthorized pardoy”, Randall asks the question: where were the mulatto (mixed race) children of Tara? Thus, we are given the story of an illgeitimate mulatto woman named Cynara (or Cinnamon, or Cindy), the daughter of Planter (the master of the plantation) and Mammy. But Mammy’s love is reserved for Other, the beautiful yet spoiled daughter of Planter and Lady, and Cindy is eventually sold off by Planter without protest from Mammy. She makes her way to Atlanta to become the mistress of a prominent white businessman named R, who has left his wife behind without a damn.

I picked up this book because while I do love Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, I know it is not without its flaws, particularly when it comes to romanticizing the South and slavery through characters like Mammy. Randall’s short book is in many ways both a prequel and a sequel to Mitchell’s classic, allowing readers to see the dark sides of slavery and the conflicted position in which women like Mammy were placed as it parallels the well-known story of Scarlett O’Hara. It sort of revels in the darkness and shadows of the original story, piecing together stories and suggesting motives for characters who were outright ignored in the original novel. Miss Priss (Prissy) is resentful of Mealy Mouth (Melanie) for having her brother killed, and it is suggested that Garlic (Pork) had something to do with the death of Planter (Gerald).

Some of the suggestions go to far; almost board on hatred for Mitchell’s original tale. And those looking for a conclusion to the story of R(hett) and Other (Scarlett) will be divided based perception of Rhett’s decision to leave Scarlett — justified or vengeful? But that’s not the point of this book, and I think readers would be misguided to believe that it is. The focus is on the forgotten women and men of Tara, on those who break their backs and their hearts creating the world Mitchell seems to mourn in her novel. In that regard, the book is a rather clever read as it attempts to pick apart the flaws of a one-sided presentation of life in the Antebellum South.

Ironically, the downfall of this book is its association with Mitchell’s book, however unauthorized that may be. It could have been an evocative tale about the struggles of being mixed raced before, during, and after the Civil War, and some of that is well-maintained in this presentation. Yet the way Randall decides to finish off Mitchell’s tale is bound to ruffle some feathers and move people’s focus from what she trying to present to a more defensive posture.

Books Mentioned:

  • Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind. New York, NY: Warner, 1999. Originally published 1936. Print. 1037 pgs. ISBN: 9780446675536. Source: Library.
  • Randall, Alice. The Wind Done Gone. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Print. 210 pgs. ISBN: 061810450X. Source: Free bin.
Book Cover © Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved: May 10, 2013.
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