"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

20 April 2015

2015 Book Review #11: Ruth's Journey

Who loves Gone with the Wind as much as I do??

I first read that novel in probably 10th grade and fell in love with all the  characters.  I especially loved Mammy.  I read it again in college and again as a newlywed.  I love the movie although I do believe the book is better as the movie leaves so.much.out!!

So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this book on the town library "new books" shelf, written by an author who received permission from the Margaret Mitchell Estate, and I just had to get it!


This book is about Mammy from Gone with the Wind.  Mammy, for those of you who don't know the famous novel and award winning movie, is the black lady who takes care of the O'Hara family....Ellen and Gerald and their daughters Scarlett, Careen, and Suellen.

But most of this story centers around Ruth (Mammy) and her life with Solange.

The story of Mammy...her life journey...begins on the little island of Saint -Domingue, now known as Haiti. The island is a French colony and is under a revolution.  One day a senseless act of violence leaves just one survivor in a black family.....a beautiful little 4 year old girl hiding under a manioc basket and found by Captain Augustin Fornier.  He brings her home to his wife Solange (who later becomes the mother of Ellen who becomes the mother of Katie Scarlett O'Hara!).

Solange names the little girl "Ruth" and when they must flee the island to settle in Savannah, Georgia, they take her with them.  Ruth becomes their constant companion, comforter....and slave.  Solange teaches Ruth deportment and areas of etiquette found in gentile southern circles.

As a young woman, Ruth experiences love, marriage, childbirth.....and horrible loss and trauma.

When Solange gives birth to Ellen, it is Ruth...now known as "Mammy"....who teaches, guards, and nurtures the little girl.  She is at Ellen's side every day of her life.  Ellen makes an unexpected marriage to Gerald O'Hara...the rough Irishman, who takes Ruth and everyone else to the Up Country cotton plantation known as "Tara".  Thus begins a new chapter in Mammy's life....being a mammy to a new generation of young girls...the O' Hara girls.

Tara is a well known plantation and well known for their fine barbeques.  They befriend other well known families like the Wilkeses, the Tarletons, the Fontaines.  Mammy watches little Scarlett blossom into young womanhood.


If you like Gone with the Wind you are going to love reading about Mammy.  The author does a superb job of telling Mammy's back-story and reeling in the beloved characters from the more famous novel. 

I loved how Mammy became more real to me in this book than in Gone with the Wind.  In that story, she is "just" a servant although  a very important one.  In this book, we learn of her love and marriage to Jehu.  We weep for her as she learns of Jehu's hanging.  We moan and cry with her as we learn of Martine's fate......oh how I can only imagine the agony of seeing your little girl ripped out of your arms to be sold away.  The impact of slavery is much more pronounced in this book. 

And what a wonderful way to introduce Rhett Butler.  We find out in this book something very interesting that ties Rhett to Jehu.  I don't want to tell you what it is, as it would spoil the story for you.

This book left me feeling like I know Mammy as a real person.  And I think the author did just that....makes the reader really understand that slaves were real people.  The injustices done to them is shameful.  The idea of owning another person is downright horrible.  You know it really happened in history and you somehow sense that some of the slaves were better people than the Masters. In fact, most of them probably were better in integrity and character.

One very important quote from the book is this:

"because you Master don't make you right! Because you slave don't make you less'n a man!.....You can't pretend to be a boy 'thout becomin' a boy.  You can't pretend to be stupider than the white man 'thout becomin' stupider than what the white man is.  Who you pretends you is, you comes to be" (pg 157, Ruth's Journey c.2014, spoken by the character Preacher Vesy)
This book leaves you feeling proud of Mammy and her integrity. The ending of the book gave me chills.

It is excellent.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest I rate this a 10.


Susanne said...

I'm thinking I need to read Gone with the Wind and this one too!

Melanie Lopata said...

WOW!!!! This one first on my list! I loved Gone with the Wind!!!!!!!!!!