Monday, February 18, 2013

Male on Monday - Rhett Butler

Today our regular columnist Annie West explores the allure of one of Hollywood's and literature's favourite heroes: Rhett Butler.

I saw 'Gone with the Wind' when I was young. I got swept away by the grandeur of it all and the wide sweep of emotions and action that turned it into something far bigger than anything I'd ever seen before. Between you and me I got rather tired of Scarlett O'Hara. I'm ducking already as I know she has a legion of fans. Yes, I admired her strength and purpose, but I didn't find myself identifying with her as much as I'd hoped.

On the other hand there was Rhett Butler, the only man capable of taking on Scarlett and surviving. Now there was a character I wanted to see lots more of. I knew from the first that this was a man who'd be more than a match for the spoiled, bossy, wilful but beautiful and fascinating Scarlett. I didn't know it then but I must have had a secret weakness for a sexy alpha hero.

That's right. If you're seeking inspiration for your alpha hero, I'd recommend having a close look at Rhett Butler. Here (above) is the classic Rhett - Clark Gable playing against Vivien Leigh. Because I haven't read the book, the movie Rhett is the one I imprinted on when young.

Timothy Dalton as Rhett Butler
And here is another, equally charming and handsome Rhett: English actor Timothy Dalton, wearing that iconic moustache I always associate with this hero. Both look to me the picture of elegant, southern charm from another era. There really is something very appealing about some of the men's fashions from bygone days. Both look charismatic and polished but ever so slightly dangerous in a wholly masculine way. Rhett is a man in control of his destiny, ready to make choices and abide by the consequences. He doesn't dither but makes his choice and moves on.


Daniel Danesh as Rhett Butler
That's one of the things I enjoy about an alpha hero - the strength of their self belief. Even knowing they're not perfect, they also have faith enough to take on the hardest ventures or unlikeliest gambles, because they know they, if anyone, have the abilities to succeed. Rhett, like any good alpha, is a born leader, a man who stands out from the crowd. And Scarlett, an alpha female if ever there was one, recognises that in him from the first. He has an allure that marks him out from the other men around her. Rhett is strong, physically attractive and very, very knowing. Unlike some of the other characters, Rhett understands Scarlett quickly - too quickly for her liking in some ways. He's a man who appreciates a strong woman, rather than being afraid of her or pandering to her. He's her equal, but is still definitely the dominant male in a way that makes Scarlett (and us) melt.

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler
I enjoy the fact that Rhett is a bad boy who doesn't care what the world thinks, though he's pleased to play the social games when it suits him. He's quick, observant and clever and has a dry wit that I can't help but enjoy. I always feel with Rhett Butler that there's so much going on beneath the surface - a man I'd like to get to know if I had the chance.

He's real hero material - he has a softer side and you can see his emotions, despite the fact that he's such a strong character and doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve. Personally, I love the fact that he stands up to Scarlett and doesn't let her ride roughshod over him.

How about you? Are you a Rhett Butler fan? Who is your current favourite hero on screen or in literature?

Annie will give away a signed copy of her current release CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT (tomorrow is release day in North America) to one person who leaves a comment. Check by tomorrow to see whose name she drew as the winner.

CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT is a March release in the UK and Australia and is on sale in North America on 19 February. Romantic Times gave it a 4 star review, describing it as a 'passionate star-crossed romance". Here's a taste:


Out of the limelight... 
Domenico Volpe has been a paparazzi target for years with his rugged Roman looks, glamorous lifestyle and, most recently, a family tragedy. Now that the woman at the center of it all is released from prison, he'll do whatever it takes to keep her quiet.  

And into the fire! 
Domenico ensures that Lucy Knight "accepts" his offer of refuge on his well-guarded offshore estate. While the media furor abates on the mainland, things are heating up on the island! Domenico is beginning to doubt Lucy's guilt as he uncovers the innocent, sensual woman behind the tough facade.... 

You can read an excerpt at Annie's website  and here are a couple of links to buy it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository.

44 comments:

  1. I always felt that Rhett should have dumped her because she was not good enough for him. Yes she would do anything to save her homeplace but she was not a very nice person. On screen I like Hugh Jackman.

    seriousreader at live dot com

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  2. Hi Linda, it's good to hear your thoughts - I'm with you on wanting him to dump her. Ooh, Hugh Jackman really is great to watch, isn't he?

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  3. Annie, what a great post! My mum had a huge thing for Rhett Butler. I have to say he never really rang my bell. Perhaps I need to watch it again now my bell is so much, ahem, older! Current major crush is Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. There's a touch of the Doctor Who about his portrayal which I must say I love. Love a man with big...brains! LOVED Captive in the Spotlight! Whoever wins it today is a lucky girl!

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    1. Anna, I know what you mean. When I first saw Rhett Butler it was strange as I was drawn to the character but sad to say, Clark Gable wasn't really my fantasy man. Over the years though I've focused more on the character than the actor and he really is fascinating. And to be fair, Gable did a terrific job with the him. Yep, I know what you mean about BC. There's something (or can be) so appealing about an intelligent man - but thank goodness he's got Dr Watson to soften his antisocial side.

      So glad you enjoyed 'Captive1. Thank you.

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  4. I both read the book and saw the movie. There was not enough Rhett Butler in the book for my liking. In some ways he wasn't a good man but his redemption was his love for their little girl Bonnie. She was what made him want to be a better man. I never believed he would get back with Scarlett so I never read the 'sequel' someone wrote. I was more a Leslie Howard fan than a Clark Gable fan at that point (loved his Scarlet Pimpernel) but I could see the attraction.

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    1. Fiona, LOVE Leslie Howard in the Scarlet Pimpernel. He was a really good Professor Higgins in Pygmalion too.

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    2. Anna - you're a real fan, aren't you? I can't remember him in Pygmalion. Must look him up.

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  5. Hi Princess Fiona! I understand your comment about LH as the Scarlet Pimpernel. A friend of mine goes soft at the knees just thinking about that one! Yes, I liked the fact that Rhett was someone who had to be redeemed. It made him more real, seeing someone flawed but heroic.

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  6. Hi Annie - love your post!!!

    I also found Scarlett on the annoying side and I liked how Rhett Butler was able to recognise exactly who she was. He (seemed) never to be taken in by her charms. This created great tension and so as a reader/viewer you wanted to know more and how it was going to end! :)

    I like Rhett but he's not my favourite hero. I currently like Elliott Stabler from Law & Order SVU. He's a good bloke trying to balance his homelife (wife and kids) against his police work. Despite the cool calm he displays most of the time, there are time you see the real man emerge when he's about to pound the living daylights out of a rapist/sex offender. Seeing his struggle in balancing it all makes me like him even more :) Plus he's easy on the eye ;)

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    1. Oh, yes, Joanne. Give me a hero who's easy on the eye! I'll have to check out Elliott. Yes, I liked the way that Rhett, even while wanting Scarlett, wasn't sucked in by her - or not as much as the others. He's very knowing, isn't he?

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  7. Ya know, I've never watched GWTW! I've seen clips of it and read a bit of it, but it's way too long for my liking. What little I saw bored me to tears. I just "didn't give a damn" about Scarlett, and Rhett wasn't much further up my likeability scale. I'm more into humour - especially with takeoffs of GWTW, like with Carol Burnett. Now THAT'S something I won't soon forget. Love that skit.
    As for my favourite hero, he is whoever I'm reading or watching at the moment. Mind you, my first thought was that I liked it when Pierce Brosnan portrayed Remington Steele and later James Bond and others....

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  8. Ah, Laney, maybe one long wet afternoon you'll change your mind and give it a go. It's good to watch an epic from time to time and GWTW is definitely one of those.

    Smiling here at your comment about your favourite being the one you're reading/watching at the time. That's why I love romances - so many to choose from!

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  10. Hi Annie, I loved your post as I am a huge GTTW fan. It was my mother's favorite film and she first took me to see it when I was 11. I saw it many more times, sobbing when Bonnie died, thrilling to the scene where Rhett sweeps Scarlett up those stairs. I adored it and still do.
    I always loved Rhett but as I got older I also saw the appeal of Ashley. As for the women, who didn't love Melanie? But I loved Scarlett no matter how badly she behaved. You should read the book to see just what a tough cookie the character is.
    My list of gorgeous men in movies and TV would take up the entire comments section but I do think Channing Tatum is divine as he is so masculine but also vulnerable (and an amazing dancer). I love Daniel Craig too and also echo Joanne Dannon's comment on Elliot from Law & Order, loved him and was sad when he left the show.
    I'm looking forward to reading CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT as I love your books.

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    1. Kandy, how lovely to think that your mother was a GWTW fan. I'm always interested to hear what was a favourite movie at home for other people. GWTW wasn't on the list in my house but was still in the 'worth watching' category.

      Well, I confess that I much preferred Ashley when I first saw the film and couldn't for the life of me work out why Melanie was shunted into a corner. But now I have a better feel for what grabs a readers' attention and I have to say both Rhett and Scarlett do that.

      I'm a Daniel Craig fan too. Absolutely. I'm definitely going to have to check out Elliott after two sets of comments about him. Thanks, Kandy, and thanks too for the kind words about my books. I'm smiling here!

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  11. How about me? Well YES I'm a huge Rhett Butler fan!

    I totally agree about him being a great Alpha. I think that's what draws the viewer into the movie. Scarlett is frustrating but Rhett...sigh...and sigh again.

    This scene has to be one of the best. My God I wouldn't have refused to kiss him...

    Scarlett: [pleads with Rhett as he is about to leave to join the Confederate Army] Oh, Rhett! Please, don't go! You can't leave me! Please! I'll never forgive you!
    Rhett Butler: I'm not asking you to forgive me. I'll never understand or forgive myself. And if a bullet gets me, so help me, I'll laugh at myself for being an idiot. There's one thing I do know... and that is that I love you, Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we're alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names.
    Scarlett: [struggles] Don't hold me like that!
    Rhett Butler: [holds her tighter] Scarlett! Look at me! I've loved you more than I've ever loved any woman and I've waited for you longer than I've ever waited for any woman.
    [kisses her forhead]
    Scarlett: [turns her face away] Let me alone!
    Rhett Butler: [forces her to look him in the eyes] Here's a soldier of the South who loves you, Scarlett. Wants to feel your arms around him, wants to carry the memory of your kisses into battle with him. Never mind about loving me, you're a woman sending a soldier to his death with a beautiful memory. Scarlett! Kiss me! Kiss me... once...
    [he kisses her]

    I absolutely lurv this line.... "Open your eyes and look at me. No, I don't think I will kiss you - although you need kissing badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how." MAJOR SWOON!!

    Sooo yes I love Gone with the Wind it's one of my favourite books and yes I couldn't help but be annoyed at Scarlett and I wanted Rhett under her skin and I wanted her to see what she had in this one hunk of an Alpha male that never hid his attraction for her.

    Oh other favourite hero's Oh…I have so many…Eric Northman, James Bond (because he gets the best cars, gadgets and women and who wouldn't want to be him), Sherlock Holmes, Atticus Finch and Perry Mason. I love watching Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries at the moment...he's a bad boy Alpha and we all love those. I could keep going but I’d bore you and probably scare you with my choices.

    Excellent post Annie.

    Smiles,
    Efthalia

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    1. Efthalia - wow! What a terrific quote. Thanks for making the effort to include it here. I remember being shocked and thrilled to the core as a young girl by that line about her needing to be kissed and kissed often. And I love the fact that he knows her for what she is and realises how alike they are and loves her for it. He's not after a shrinking violet but a woman who's a match for him. I like that most of all in romances - a real sense of a match between characters.

      What a great list you've put together of heroes. Atticus Finch is a beauty and not one we see so often. I love the fact you're discussing 'To Kill a Mockingbird' as well as 'The Vampire Diaries'.

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    2. I told you I was strange.

      Annie, I think Atticus is just one of those characters that just stays with you. He always has the right words. “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

      And then you have Damon who is on a whole other level,
      "I do believe in killing the messenger. Know why? It sends a message." or "Try the sock drawer. People leave the sketchiest things in the sock drawer." and "Yoohoo! Anybody home? Big bad vampire out here!"

      You see now why I had to throw him in Annie. It's hard not to like him, even if he's bad. p.s. the episode I had watched was fresh in my head and so was he, said he'd bite me if I didn't talk about him. Lol.

      Smiles,
      Efthalia


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    3. Efthalia, I love the fact you can quote these so easily. I'm impressed. I'm wondering though about Damon threatening to bite you...

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    4. I love quotes. I collect them. Everyone has their fetish and I have mine...quotes. lol. I used to hand write them out in a quote book. Now I just place them in a folder on the computer. Easy and instant access of things people said and quotes from books.

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  12. Fabulous post, Annie!! GWTW is one of my favorite books and movie. I've lost count of the number of times I've read and watched them!

    This post is timely because I recently read 'Rhett Butler's People', which is Rhett's history. It was not riveting like GWTW and not quite what I expected, but it was interesting to delve into the lives of some of the other characters. And
    this time Rhett and Scarlett end up together. :)

    Simon Baker from the Mentalist is the first hero that comes to mind, probably because he's just so smooth and cute. ;)

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    1. Hi Cheryl. I'm so glad I struck a chord with you. Should I admit I haven't read it? ooh, I haven't heard of 'Rhett Butler's people'. That is timely. I'm tempted to pick it up and see what happens to them all.

      I like Simon Baker too. I first saw him in 'LA Confidential' and even then, as a minor character, he caught my eye. He's got real presence, hasn't he?

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  13. Aww, I'm a Rhett and Scarlett fan. I'm also of the opinion that they did end up together, because Scarlett is one determined woman and she's not the kind to just let Rhett walk away from her. But I expect she had a heck of a time bringing him around. (At least that's my theory and I'm sticking to it).

    As for favourite heroes...I still LOVE Colin Firth's Mr Darcy. Sigh. Gorgeous post, Annie!

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    1. Michelle, isn't it fun the way we come up with our theories regarding characters? You could be right about Scarlett and Rhett. Both are so obstinate. Wouldn't it have been fun to watch her trying to persuade him to relent.

      Ooh, yes, please. Colin Firth works for me every time. Wasn't his casting as Mr Darcy inspired?

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  14. Atticus Finch as played by Gregory Peck, who is also gorgeous in Roman Holiday. Cary Grant anytime, Rhett in both novel and movie (Clark Gable), Hugh Jackman as Leopold or the Drover or Wolverine (that waterfall scene is fun!) Colin Firth as Darcy in P&P and as Darcy in Love Actually, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig (maybe my favourite?)...

    Sorry, Annie. I can't pick just one.

    What's that - I can have them all? - why, thank you, yes, and I will soon be getting more Dan the Man when my copy of Skyfall arrives. *sigh. Thanks for this interesting post, Annie. I did enjoy it.

    Cheers, Susanne

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    1. Susanne - my mind is going to explode! What a great list of heroes. What fun that you've picked Atticus Finch as well. As a little girl I had a real soft spot for Gregory Peck (and Cary Grant and Cary Cooper). So many fantastic heroes - it's unfair to be asked to choose just one. Yes, you can definitely have them all.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for dropping by.

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  15. I saw "Gone with the Wind" as a teenager and I guess, Rhett was the only one who seemed to use his common sense throughout the film. He is not for talking but is not jumping onto things without thinking either, well maybe he should have stayed clear of Scarlett though. I couldn't read the book though, stopped on page 14.
    True alpha males are hard to find and as soon as they are mated and have young they become soft within their familiar circle. Outwardly they are protective and strong but the alpha females have them usually totally wrapped around their little paws.

    As for other alpha males, well I would not say 'no' to Van Helsing (played by a *swoon* fabulous Hugh Jackman), Gary Oldman doing the Dracula on Mina, Rutger Hauer's character Etienne Navarre in "Ladyhawke" (my absolut fav fantasy movie) and in the literature on my bed side table there is right now the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward (either you hate or love the books) and within this series my heart beats for the scarred guy - Zsadist (name is reputation not his real nature though and they all have these weird names: Wrath, Phury, Thorment, Dhestroyer, Vishious etc.).

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  16. Hi Fluser. That's an interesting observation about Rhett using his common sense. I suppose it's because he's focused on reality rather than swayed by patriotism and rhetoric. I can see I'll have to watch the film again.

    Hey, I'm glad you mentioned Rutger Hauer in 'LadyHawke'. That's one of my favourite romance movies ever and I haven't seen it in years. I'll have to watch it again soon. It sounds as if you're fond of dark heroes with the list you've given. There's nothing quite like a dangerous, edgy hero, is there?

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  17. Hi Annie. I saw GWTW when I was younger and I remember being really annoyed at Scarlet for her constant whineing. I have always thought in the back of my mind I'd like to give the movie another go now that I'm older, I'll probably understand and appreciate it a bit more and have an opinion of Rhett Butler.

    Miss 11 taught me last week that Ayrton Senna is a bit of a hero to her. During his lifetime apparently he donated millions to the poor children in Brazil and his foundation continues to support this, his death impacted and improved Formula 1 safety; he is currently the last person to die in F1 racing (touch wood) and history remembers him as one of the worlds best 10 ever drivers making him a legend. My side of the family more into rugby than motorsport so I was rather interested how taken by him she was.

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    1. Tash, how lovely that your daughter's hero is a man who did so much good! That's fantastic. She sounds like a girl who's a good judge for her eleven years.

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    2. Hi Annie, we were flicking thru the channels one Sunday afternoon and the movie Senna was on, she was captivated! Then when she went back to school her first project was to write about someone who's made an impact on the world and she came home declaring he was her hero. The male side of the family are very proud lol.

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  18. Hi, Annie! Congrats on the release of your Captive!

    I watched GWTW over and over when I was a kid as my eldest sister was a huge fan. I think I had all the dialogue down pat! Rhett always struck me as a man who knew his own mind, unlike Ashley who seemed rather wishy-washy. At first I couldn't see what Scarlett saw in Ashley, but I came to admire him because of his devotion to Melanie.

    Thanks for getting me excited about seeing GWTW for the 1,897th time! :)

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    1. Vanessa - 1,897 times? You poor thing. I think both men had their positives and negatives. I suppose it's just that Rhett was so intriguing because he stood out from the crowd and was in some ways larger than life - perfect for a fiction hero!

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  19. Hi, Annie!

    I wasn't a fan of Scarlett either. I loved how Rhett put her in her place.

    And, I will always be a Timothy Dalton fan . . . *sigh*.

    Abbi :-)

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    1. Hi Abbi - I'm with you. Timothy Dalton is terrific. I hadn't even known he'd played this role till I put this piece together.

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  20. I most definitely am a fan of Rhett Butler and love the “original” one: Clark Gable. I read “Gone with the Wind” and watched the movie many years ago. I was absolutely enthralled with both the book and the movie. I wish they wrote novels like that and make fabulous movies like that too. Unfortunately, I guess the call for something like that isn’t large enough. However, I’d be the first one to raise my hand!!

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    1. Hi Connie, there's something special about a story on a big scale, isn't there? I'm so glad to find another Rhett fan.

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  21. Hi Annie! Great wrap up about the gorgeous Rhett! I never could understand Scarlet's obsession with the wishy-washy Ashley!

    I like Clark Gable's Rhett... though I confess he wobble on his pedestal when I read somewhere about badly fitting dentures and hallitosis... (sigh)

    I do think Timothy Dalton would make a wonderful Rhett! Must hunt that version up!

    Mmm, as for who makes a good screen hero... very fond of a good Hugh Jackman movie... or Colin Firth... or Daniel Craig (I do enjoy his James Bond!. So many lovely heroes to choose from - and I can have them all on DVD!!

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    1. Oh, Sharon, I don't want to hear that about Clark G. My father is an old movie fan and insists on telling me a lot about the actors and sometimes it takes a little away from the story.

      Can I just say I applaud all your hero choices? Verry nice indeed.

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  22. Like Oliver from Arrow

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  23. Hi BN. I'll have to look Oliver up. Always glad to discover new heroes!

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  24. Wow, what a lovely chat about Rhett B and other heroes. Thanks everyone!

    Given the number of comments and the fun I've had here I thought I should offer two books rather than one. So - CONGRATULATIONS to:
    EFTHALIA - who's won a copy of 'Captive in the Spotlight' and to
    CONNIE - who's won a copy of one of my previous titles.
    If you both email me at annie(at)annie-west(dot)com with your postal addresses, I'll send out the books.

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