Alice Randall, Author . Houghton Mifflin $23 (210p) ISBN 978-0-618-13309-3

On April 20, barely a month before the scheduled publication of Randall's retelling of Gone with the Wind from a slave's perspective, a federal district court in Atlanta pulled the plug, ruling that the first-time author had engaged in "unabated piracy" in the crafting of her tale. Whether the book ever makes it into readers' hands, it stands as a spirited reimagination of Mitchell's world, dependent on its predecessor for its context but independent in form and voice. A slip of a tale next to the massive bulk of Mitchell's saga, it relies on tart social observations and imaginative language—and, yes, titillating speculation (Ashley ["Dreamy Gentleman"] is gay; Rhett ["R."] betrayed Scarlett ("Other") the night their daughter died)—for its appeal. Supplanting elite white Southern society with an elite Creole community, the novel features heroine Cynara (also called Cinnamon and Cindy), Other's mulatto half-sister and R.'s full-time concubine. Cynara is educated; she keeps a diary, through which she tells her story. Settled in a house of her own in Atlanta, she recalls her childhood and describes at length her resentment of her mother Mammy's preference for Other. Cynara has known misery (she was sold to the madam of a whorehouse), but also good fortune: later, she accompanied R. on a grand tour of Europe. After much dwelling on her past, she is finally happily distracted by a romance with a black congressman in Washington. Randall's account of the situation of slaves and mixed-race offspring in the antebellum South sometimes slides into a fantasy of empowerment, but her insights are frequent and sharp. Part playful fabrication, part bid for redemption, and full-on venture into our common literary past, her contested work is best defined as honest fiction.

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 224 pages
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-1705-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-618-19424-7
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-618-21906-3
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-547-52493-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-618-19425-4
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