Ruth's Journey

A Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind

Ruth's Journey

“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” (Geraldine Brooks, author of March).

“Her story began with a miracle.” On the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, an island consumed by the flames of revolution, a senseless attack leaves only one survivor—an infant girl. She falls into the hands of two French émigrés, Henri and Solange Fournier, who take the beautiful child they call Ruth to the bustling American city of Savannah.

What follows is the sweeping tale of Ruth’s life as shaped by her strong-willed mistress and other larger-than-life personalities she encounters in the South: Jehu Glen, a free black man with whom Ruth falls madly in love; the shabbily genteel family that first hires Ruth as Mammy; Solange’s daughter Ellen and the rough Irishman, Gerald O’Hara, whom Ellen chooses to marry; the Butler family of Charleston and their shocking connection to Mammy Ruth; and finally Scarlett O’Hara—the irrepressible Southern belle Mammy raises from birth. As we witness the difficult coming of age felt by three generations of women, gifted storyteller Donald McCaig reveals a portrait of Mammy that is both nuanced and poignant, at once a proud woman and a captive, a strict disciplinarian who has never experienced freedom herself. But despite the cruelties of a world that has decreed her a slave, Mammy endures, a rock in the river of time. She loves with a ferocity that would astonish those around her if they knew it. And she holds tight even to those who have been lost in the ravages of her days.

Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451643541 | 
  • August 2015
List Price $21.00 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

ABOUT THIS GUIDE

This reading group guide for Ruth’s Journey includes an introduction and discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

 

INTRODUCTION

Long before Tara, Scarlett, and Rhett, before the war that would divide a nation . . . there was Ruth. Now it’s time to learn her story through Ruth’s Journey.

Authorized by the Margaret Mitchell Estate and written by New York Times bestselling author Donald McCaig, Ruth’s Journey brings magnificently to life one of the most beloved and intriguing characters in literature: Mammy from Gone with the Wind

Set against the backdrop of the South from the 1820s until the dawn of the Civil War, here is a remarkable story of fortitude, heartbreak, and indomitable will—and a tale that will forever illuminate your reading of Margaret Mitchell’s unforgettable classic, Gone with the Wind. 

 

TOPICS & QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION   

1. In Gone with the Wind, the character called Mammy has no other name; why do you think Donald McCaig decided to give her a different name in this book, and why did he choose the name Ruth in particular?&n see more

About the Author

Donald McCaig

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.

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