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Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel Paperback – 2010
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The peculiar-- the only two male characters are a highly-flawed father and a hateful, racist thief. This gender-polarization struck me as quite odd.
The thought-provoking-- set in 1967, these appealing white women live in relative luxury, funded by deceased husbands. In an era of civil rights turmoil and a nascent feminist movement, it seems to me these issues might have been touched upon.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it.
Camille Honeycutt was a beauty queen in Georgia, and her life as a transplant to the North has seemingly clipped her wings and shredded her soul. And CeeCee is too young to really understand what is happening to her mother. But she knows all too well the taunts, the jeers, and the horror of living without friends, since everyone has labeled her the child of that "weird woman."
Then CeeCee's mother dies in a tragic accident, and her father decides to send her to Savannah to live with her Great Aunt Tallulah (Tootie). But what CeeCee sees as abandonment by her father turns out to be the best thing that's ever happened to her.
From the moment that CeeCee steps into the beautiful old home in Savannah, her life gradually takes on a new shape, with loving people around her and the colorful world encircling her more every day.
The characters in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel are reminiscent of all those old Southern tales I've enjoyed, with the dialogue and activities that make me think of the charm I've come to admire in every Southern book I have ever read. I loved Oletta, who reminded me of characters I enjoyed in The Help...and the quirky neighbors made me think of others I had come to adore with their "steel magnolias" kind of strength; the women in Aunt Tootie's world seemingly join together to create a new place for CeeCee until, finally, she feels as though she really belongs--at long last.
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