Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

On cover, Scarlett has top billing over Gone with the Wind
She reminds me of Heidi the Goat Girl.

Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett’s full title adds the words, “The sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

Ripley picks up Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler’s story at the graveside of Melanie Wilkes, whose husband Scarlett had long coveted, letting readers know that episode is closed.

Then Ripley moves to Mammy’s death bed, where Rhett Butler appears to promise the faithful black servant he’ll look after Scarlett. Rhett says his promise is a lie, but Scarlett doesn’t believe that.

For the next 800 pages, Ripley moves Scarlett around the still Yankee-occupied South like a monopoly marker, sometimes landing on Boardwalk, sometimes not passing Go.

Scarlett keeps trying to get Rhett back. They have intercourse once, after which Rhett marries someone else. Later Scarlett discovers she’s pregnant.

After being introduced to her father’s relatives, Scarlett invests in land in Ireland, becoming The O’Hara of her father’s people under English domination.

Scarlett’s daughter Katie “Cat” O’Hara is a prodigy. By age four she is more mature than her mother at 30. Katie learns from her experiences: Scarlett never does.

Rhett’s wife conveniently dies, he conveniently comes to Ireland, and he and Scarlett are conveniently reunited.

The sequel spawned a TV miniseries. Even that caused no stir in this century.

Scarlett: Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
by Alexandra Ripley
Warner Books. 1991. 823 p.
1991 bestseller #1; my grade: C

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

Beggarman, Thief: Murder with a surprise ending

Beggarman, Thief is a sequel to Rich Man, Poor Man, but readers need have no acquaintance with Irwin Shaw’s 1970 bestseller to enjoy this 1977 follow-up.

cover of "Beggarman Thief" is all text
Complexity of “Beggarman, Thief” defies imagery.

Tom Jordache has been clubbed to death on the deck of his own ship in the harbor of Antibes.

After scattering Tom’s ashes, Tom’s sister, Gretchen, goes back to her Hollywood job.

Tom’s bride of five days goes home to England to bear Tom’s child there.

Toms 16-year-old son, Wesley, who had only shortly before come to live with his father, wants revenge.

Wesley vents his rage his loss on a man in a bar, nearly killing him. He’s released from jail on condition he leave France. He reluctantly goes to stay with his mother and her new husband in Indianapolis.

That leaves Rudolph, the brother Tom and Gretchen always disliked, to settle Tom’s estate in France and make sure Wesley doesn’t commit murder.

Handling unpleasant affairs is how Rudolph made his millions.

In Rich Man, Poor Man, Shaw presented a complicated family story. In Beggarman, Thief he adds both a murder and terrorism to a family story—and does it all with seeming effortlessness and an optimism missing in his 1970 novel.

When push comes to shove, the Jordaches are family.

Beggarman, Thief by Irwin Shaw
Delacorte Press, c.1977. 436 p.
1977 bestseller #7. My grade: A

©2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Oliver’s Story in which Oliver grows up

Oliver Barrett IV, last seen at the end of Love Story mourning his deceased wife, is still emotionally dead 18 months later when Oliver’s Story opens.

Oliver's Story dust jacket is all text: title, author, and a reference to “Love Story”
Oliver’s Story dust jacket: Just the facts.

Even Jenny’s father thinks its time workaholic Oliver started looking for a new love.

Friends introduce Oliver to a pediatrician, who doesn’t appeal to him, though he finds himself unexpectedly enjoying her family of classical musicians and their music.

Oliver starts seeing a psychiatrist.

He refuses to talk to the shrink about his relationship with his father.

Oliver accidentally meets a woman who intrigues him. He doesn’t even seem to notice that Marcie’s snappy, smart-mouth comebacks sound like Jenny.

But what Marcie Nash tells Oliver about herself doesn’t add up. What does she do with her time? Why won’t she level with him?

Oliver’s Story is twice as long as Love Story, but it’s still Oliver talking about himself—and he’s really rather a jerk.

On the plus side, Erich Segal lets readers finally learn the reason for Oliver’s alienation from his parents.

And he lets Oliver begin to act like an adult.

However, I can’t help wondering what might have happened if Segal had let Oliver accept the Steins’ invitation to join their living room orchestra.

Oliver’s Story by Erich Segal
Harper & Row, ©1977. 264 p.
1977 bestseller #5. My grade: B

© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

 

Dear Enemy is friendly romance

Dear Enemy picks up the story of the John Grier Home that Jean Webster began in her earlier epistolary novel Daddy Long Legs.

The leading characters in that romance have chosen vivacious socialite Sallie McBride to turn the orphanage into a model institution.

Drawing of Sallie opening basket containing a puppy.
Sallie finds a puppy, gift from her friends Jean and Jervis.

Dear Enemy by Jean Webster

Jean Webster, Illus.  Century Co., 1915.  1916 bestseller #9.
Project Gutenberg ebook #238. My Grade: B+.


Sallie accepts only until Judy and Jervis can find someone else.

Almost immediately, Sallie locks horns with tradition and rigidity personified by the dour Scots doctor Robin MacRae.

He finds her frivolous, unfit for her job.

His attitude puts Sallie’s back up.

She turns on the charm where it will do the most good.

Before long Sallie has everyone eating out of her hand except Dr. MacRae. Sallie sends him notes addressed, “Dear Enemy.”

When the doctor leaves to take care of some personal business Sallie learns the cause of his moroseness.

For warm-hearted Sallie, it’s just a step from sympathy to love.

For all its romance and charm, Dear Enemy overlays a snapshot of institutional life in early twentieth century America. While not quite Dickensian, it’s a long way from Boys Town.

Sadie Kate has had her pigtails cut off.
Sallie is determined someone will adopt Sadie Kate, now minus her awful pigtails.

Sadly, some of the issues Sallie faced youth workers face today.

You couldn’t learn about them any more pleasantly than through Dear Enemy.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

The Vixens Deserves Extinction

Frank Yerby had a smash hit with The Foxes of Harrow in 1946. The next year, he published a sequel, which also became a bestseller, even though The Vixens is even more awful than its predecessor.

The story is about ex-Union soldier Laird Fournois who returns to Louisiana hoping to get elected to the state legislature and make his fortune.

Laird meets the rich, unscrupulous Hugh Duncan and marries Hugh’s cousin Sabrina. Sabrina goes mad. Laird wants to be faithful, but succumbs to the charms of Denise Lascals, a sexy Creole who has loved him since childhood.

The dastardly Hugh has also fallen for Denise. Ultimately Hugh and Laird have to fight for their principles and Denise.

The totally unbelievable characters in this story fit perfectly in the totally unbelievable plot.

The interest in the novel is primarily in the historical background of the story. For example, at one point Laird goes looking for the polls whose locations whites move several times during the night to keep blacks from voting. That may not seem exciting, but compared to the story line, it’s hot stuff.

The Vixens is neither a good romance nor a good historical novel. It’s simply a bore.

The Vixens
By Frank Yerby
Dial Press, 1947
#5 bestseller in 1947
My grade: D+
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni