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Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel Hardcover – January 12, 2010

1,114 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hoffman's debut, a by-the-numbers Southern charmer, recounts 12-year-old Cecelia Rose Honeycutt's recovery from a childhood with her crazy mother, Camille, and cantankerous father, Carl, in 1960s Willoughby, Ohio. After former Southern beauty queen Camille is struck and killed by an ice cream truck, Carl hands over Cecelia to her great-aunt Tootie. Whisked off to a life of privilege in Savannah, Ga., Cecelia makes fast friends with Tootie's cook, Oletta, and gets to know the cadre of eccentric women who flit in and out of Tootie's house, among them racist town gossip Violene Hobbs and worldly, duplicitous Thelma Rae Goodpepper. Aunt Tootie herself is the epitome of goodness, and Oletta is a sage black woman. Unfortunately, any hint of trouble is nipped in the bud before it can provide narrative tension, and Hoffman toys with, but doesn't develop, the idea that Cecelia could inherit her mother's mental problems. Madness, neglect, racism and snobbery slink in the background, but Hoffman remains locked on the sugary promise of a new day. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Momma always told CeeCee (short for Cecelia Rose) that “being in the North isn’t living—it’s absolute hell.” Of course, having to live with Momma—Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, that is, Vidalia Onion Queen, 1951—doesn’t make it any more heavenly, especially when Momma starts standing in the front yard blowing kisses to passersby. You know this is going to end badly, and so it does, when the erstwhile onion queen is run over by a speeding Happy Cow Ice Cream Truck. Before you can say “sweet magnolia blossoms,” 12-year-old CeeCee is sent off to Savannah to live with her elderly great aunt, Tallulah Caldwell, and her wise African American housekeeper and cook, Oletta. It being 1967, you know there will be one dark episode of racial hatred, but it’s quickly—and conveniently—resolved offstage, leaving all the characters free to continue being relentlessly eccentric, upbeat, sweet as molasses, and living, as CeeCee puts it with a straight face, “in a breezy, flower-scented fairy tale . . . a strange, perfumed world that . . . seemed to be run entirely by women.” Light as air but thoroughly pleasant reading. --Michael Cart
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition edition (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021390
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Twelve days after Beth Hoffman's first novel was published, she became a New York Times bestselling author with foreign rights selling to publishers in Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Norway, Hungary, Indonesia, Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Before beginning her writing career, Beth was the president and co-owner of an interior design studio. An artist as well as an award-winning designer, her paintings are displayed in private and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Beth's interests include the rescue of abandoned and abused animals, nature conservancy, birding, historic preservation, and antiquing. She lives, along with her husband and two very smart cats, in a quaint historic district in Northern Kentucky.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

279 of 291 people found the following review helpful By Gayla M. Collins VINE VOICE on December 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Cecelia(Cee-Cee)Honeycutt is a twelve year old girl tending her mentally ill mother in Ohio when the mother is suddenly, violently killed. The absentee father sends broken-hearted, emotionally exhausted, Cee-Cee off to abide with a great-aunt in Savannah, GA. Eccentric characters, including a black cook, Oletta, who conjures recipes for Cee-Cee's heart as well as stomach, funny neighbors who bring the joy of laughter back to Cee-Cee, and Aunt Tootie who loves Cee-Cee towards wellness alight off the pages of this bittersweet tale.

Beth Hoffman concocts the essence of southern fiction....loquacious descriptions that send the floral arrays right into the nostrils of the reader; imaginative, inventive similes that conjure images not soon forgotten; characters rich with amusing antics and life-earned wisdom.

I loved this book; I loved it because it is believable without being so depressing I want to slit my wrists. It is truthful in its ugliness, yet hopeful in its general belief that life holds a plethora of promise.

Beautiful writing, Ms. Hoffman, and may you have many, many more successes as this book is destined to be.
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113 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Bruce O'Gorman VINE VOICE on December 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't give many five star reviews, but Beth Hoffman has a five star book (for sure!) with Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. The story opens with CeeCee (actually Cecilia) desperately trying to handle her mother's slow descent into madness. The writing grips you from the first line. I love books that grab my interest right away. The story is tragic at times, hilarious at others. If you love Southern fiction, this will be a favorite. This book reminded me of Cold Rock River or of Fair and Tender Ladies, also two of my favorites. I don't read many books over again, but I will this one. This is a great book to curl up with by the fire this winter, or to take on that long plane ride. But don't start it late in the day unless you want to be sitting up all night reading. It's that good. Really.
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135 of 166 people found the following review helpful By M. D. Mulhern VINE VOICE on December 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was a little disappointed by this book. I enjoyed reading about Cece's adventures in her new life in Savannah but I felt like there was something missing. The first few chapters of the book explain about the troubled home life Cece endures, and then Aunt Tootie arrives to save the day. I understand that the author wanted to get the plotline rolling, but I felt like the tragedies in Cece's life were a little pat and airbrushed. Along those same lines, her new life with Tootie and Oletta seemed too good to be true. Other than a little hiccup during a day at the beach, Cece's life is just a never ending story of new clothes, a beautiful and luxurious home and lifestyle, surrounded by love. Now, I understand that this was the point of the book, but at the same time I did not really feel like Cece overcame much to get there and it was just too much of a "storybook" ending lifestyle. Truly too good to be true. Nothing against happy endings, but I need a little more on the way there.
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62 of 75 people found the following review helpful By M.Jacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've been hearing about this book an awful lot lately. Numerous friends and family whose book opinions I highly value recommended this book, so I couldn't wait to sit down and read it.

Perhaps the anticipation ruined it for me, but I kept waiting (and waiting and waiting) to get to the "good part." It never happened for me.

This isn't a bad novel by any means. For me, though, it was an entirely predictable, somewhat boring book. Yes, the characters are cute and I liked all of them, but there were no enlightening moments, no huge epiphany, nothing striking at all. A decent story, but not a great one that will stay with me forever (I think it stayed with me for all of 30 minutes...the time it took me to start another novel).

Many people have already reiterated the story line here: orphaned girl taken in by a cute cast of distant relatives who raise her and give her the love she deserves. I won't bore you with that. I'll just say that if you tend to be susceptible to building up expectations for a novel, be careful here and don't expect a Pulitzer winner. Rather, expect a cutesy, warm, feel-good type novel (there are lots of them out there) and you'll likely get more enjoyment out of it than I did.

Happy reading!
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There's a well-known saying that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Unfortunately for Cecilia Honeycutt, the 12-year-old girl at the center of Beth Hoffman's phenomenal debut novel, the lemons life has thrown at her are rotten, unsalvageable fruits, and clearly something or someone else is going to have to intervene if she will taste any sweetness in life.

CeeCee has grown up in a sm all town in Ohio. Her mother is Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, a 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen and, via her marriage, a northern transplant. Sadly, like the beautiful and delicate flower whose name she bears, life for Camille Honeycutt above the Mason-Dixon line is an impossible climate in which to thrive. Today we might say CeeCee's mother has schizophrenia, is a manic-depressive, or, at the very least, is mentally disturbed. In the world of the late 1960s that CeeCee inhabits, she just knows that her mother's mood and mindset can change at the drop of a hat. She's aware that it's because of her mother's instability that her father, a machine tool salesman, stays away for weeks at a time leaving her to cope in an endless game of who's taking care of who.

It seems everyone knows CeeCee's mother is crazy, but other than an 80-year-old neighbor, Mrs. Gertrude Odell, no one makes any effort to nurture CeeCee or intervene in the situation. Poor CeeCee has developed into a bright student whose best friend is Nancy Drew and whose only mother figure is the tottering Mrs. Odell, who loves CeeCee like a grandchild but is just too old to offer anything more helpful than Sunday morning pancakes. Camille's title of Vidalia Onion Queen is obviously a crowning moment that her tortured psyche is constantly attempting to recapture.
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