Meet CeeCee Honeycutt, the newest member of the Sinn family! She found her way into my life one fateful morning when I scooped her up from the side of the road. I’ll never forget how scared and lost she looked as she wandered in front of cars near a busy street. Not knowing what to expect, I swung my car door open and called out to her. Without hesitation, she jumped into the Taurus and stared up at me with an unmistakable look of relief. Since she had no collar or registered microchip, I had to do some serious sleuthing to reunite this mystery mutt with her owner. Little did I know, she had already found her way home.
So what does this have to do with books, you ask? Well if you’re a Beth Hoffman fan, her name should ring a bell. According to my neighbors, her name is CeeCee, which is rather fitting considering that’s the name of one of my most favorite literary characters. In fact, they both started their homeward-bound journeys from very rocky pasts.
Of course there’s no way of knowing what this dog has been through, but I do know that she desperately needed a safe place to land. I may not have a fancy Cadillac or a stately Southern mansion like Aunt Tootie, but I’d like to think that CeeCee is just as thrilled to be living in her new home as her literary counterpart.
If you’re an animal lover and enjoy good books about strong Southern women, check out Beth Hoffman’s blog. This wonderful author is dedicating her book tour to raising money for animal shelters! If you haven’t ready any of her books, you’re in for a real treat. Read my reviews here and here.
From the publisher:Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop. Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky. It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last. But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.
Why I liked it:This book is the reason why I LOVE Southern fiction. With a storyteller’s easy grace, Beth Hoffman whisked me away on Teddi’s emotional journey from a small town farmer’s daughter to a successful antique shop owner. Filled with messages of hope, kindness and tolerance, the story cuts to the very core of what is meant by “paying it forward.”
I especially love how Teddi’s journey of self-discovery revolves around antiques. There’s something very beautiful about breathing new life into an old, unwanted item. One of the reasons why I adore Teddi is that she sees the beauty in everything and refuses to give up hope. With each chapter, I rooted for her as she struggled to connect with her emotionally-detached mother, and when she relentlessly searched for her missing brother. But what I love most about Teddi is that she’s kind to others without expecting anything in return.
One of my most favorite moments happened toward the end of the book when Teddi took pity on an old, destitute man who appeared at her store with a truck load of old antiques to sell. She didn’t particularly want to purchase unsolicited goods, but she didn’t have the heart to turn him away. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that her good deeds paid off big time in the end!
Favorite secondary character: Of all the wonderful characters in this book, it’s hard to choose a favorite. As Teddi begins to find her place in the world, she befriends an unforgettable cast of characters, including Tula Jane Poteet, an old, eccentric kleptomaniac ; Olivia, Teddi’s romantically-challenged best friend; and Albert, a gifted antiques restorer with a sour disposition and a heart of gold.
I guess if I had to choose, my favorite would be Mr. Palmer, the owner of a Charleston antiques store who gave Teddi her first big break into the business. He was the first to recognize her artistic talent and gave her the encouragement to pursue her passion. We should all be so lucky to have a Mr. Palmer in our lives.
The narrator: If there was an academy award for audiobooks, this narrator should win best actress! Jenna Lamia does a stellar job capturing each of the characters’ unique voices. With her authentic Southern accent and effortless storytelling skills, she delivers a top-notch performance for a truly great book. She also narrates Hoffman’s debut novel, Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt, which by the way is one of my all-time most favorite books. You can read all about it here!
Summed up in three words: Heartwarming, poignant, memorable.
Dare I say it? Could Saving CeeCee Honeycutt be one of my most favorite books of all time? Since I gave it a special place on my favorite bookshelf and plan on reading it again and again, I guess it’s safe to say that yes, this book has earned a spot in Jessica Sinn’s top ten most favorite books. It’s been while since I’ve claimed an inductee, so this is a pretty major event for Chick Lit Café!
It’s actually kind of funny how I stumbled across this book. While shopping at Barnes & Noble for a Father’s Day gift, I swore that I wouldn’t buy myself another book. I was doing really good up until I reached the checkout aisle and noticed Saving CeeCee Honeycutt on top of the impulse buy table. The hummingbird on the cover caught my eye, so I gave in and read the dustcover. And wouldn’t you know, it’s like the book was custom made just for me. It has all the elements I look for in a women’s fiction novel: A haunted protagonist, female bonding, self-discovery and a small Southern town. This was one impulse buy that I will never regret!
Now on to the hard part. I’m sure many of my fellow bloggers would agree that it’s not easy writing a review about a favorite book. There’s so much I want to say, but how do I even begin? I guess I’ll try to give it a shot without getting too carried away. Here’s how it all goes down:
Set in Savannah Georgia in the 1960s, the story revolves around CeeCee Honeycutt, whose life has been shaped by her traumatic childhood with a psychotic mother and absentee father. A former Southern beauty queen, her mother spent her days prancing around the front yard in thrift store prom dresses. Unable to deal with his crazy wife, CeeCee’s dad constantly skips town on “business trips,” leaving her alone to deal with the tantrums and kitchen fires.
Shunned by the neighborhood kids, she longs for a best girlfriend more than anything in the world. To shut out her grim reality, she devours books – especially Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew mysteries.
When tragedy strikes, CeeCee’s great aunt Tootie scoops her up in her Packard Victoria convertible and whisks her off to Savannah, Georgia. Soon she finds herself completely enveloped in a colorful world of lush gardens, historic mansions and Southern hospitality.
But despite her new posh surroundings and blossoming circle of friends, CeeCee’s life isn’t all sweet tea and roses. She has a lot of issues bubbling under the surface that can’t be ignored. Why can’t she cry over her mother’s untimely death? And will she ever be able to forgive her father? With some help from her aunt Tootie, and a bevy of eccentric Southern ladies, she slowly learns how to confront her past.
Like Dorothy entering the Land of Oz, CeeCee meets fascinating new friends along her journey – from a mysterious neighbor who takes moonlit baths in her garden, to a promiscuous town gossip, to a voyeuristic peacock! But of all the characters, my favorite is Aunt Tootie’s longtime housemaid, Oletta Jones. Similar to Mabel in The Help, she’s haunted by the death of her only child and finds a renewed sense of joy by befriending young CeeCee. As their friendship deepens with every chapter, it becomes very clear they both were destined to find each other. I got really choked up when I read this exchange between Oletta and CeeCee while they were skinny dipping in a neighbor’s pool:
Over and over I practiced saying the words in my mind: I love you, Oletta. I love you. But when I gathered the courage to say them out loud, the words that popped out were, “Oletta, if you and I had met when we were both kids, would you have liked me?”
That question seemed to surprise her as much as it did me. Then in the darkness I could see her eyes crinkle up when she smiled. “Oh, yes, I’da like you just fine, but I’d probably been a little scared of you too.”
“Because you’re so smart and pretty. Sometimes them two things in one person can mean a whole lot of trouble.”
Call me a sap, but this moment really melted my heart. How I wish I could spend a day with these two kindred spirits eating beaten biscuits and chatting about Nancy Drew!
What I really love about this book is how these women surrounded little CeeCee like a warm hug and lifted her out of the darkness. They cared for her when she was hurting. They listened to her when she unleashed her anxieties. They made her feel wanted after years of neglect. And best of all – they gave her the one thing she always wanted, true friendship. We should all be so lucky to have a strong woman like Oletta or Aunt Tootie in our corner. There’s something very special about a true friend who wholeheartedly wants for your happiness – someone who will go above and beyond to make sure everything is okay.
Overall Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is an exceptional debut. This is a book from the heart, full of strong female voices and bits of wisdom. Beth Howard brilliantly tells the story through the innocent eyes of a 12-year-old girl, taking readers on a mesmerizing journey of self-discovery. Whatever you do, don’t rush through this book. Like a great vacation, you want to savor each and every moment before it’s over! Fans of Kathryn Stockett, Cassandra King, Rebecca Wells and Billie Letts are sure to be impressed.
There’s nothing I’d rather do on a Sunday than laze around in bed with a good book and a pudgy cat. While everyone’s off running errands, working out and being productive, I’m unashamedly still in my PJs sipping coffee and immersing myself in a new story. When I came across the Midnight Book Girl’s cool meme, I couldn’t resist joining my fellow book bloggers – my soul sisters – in their blissful Sunday morning reading adventures!
This morning I’m completely wrapped up in Beth Hoffman’s debut novel, Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt. One hundred pages zipped by in a flurry and now I’m in need of another box of Kleenex! I haven’t been this moved by a book since I read The Help.
The story revolves around Cee Cee Honeycutt, a lonely little girl who really got the shaft in the parent department. The first riveting chapters take you through Cee Cee’s plight as the daughter of a bat-shit crazy mother and absentee, alcoholic father. Shunned by the neighborhood kids, she longs for a best girlfriend more than anything in the world. To shut out her grim reality, she devours books – especially Nancy Drew mysteries.
When tragedy strikes, Cee Cee’s great aunt Tootie swoops in and whisks her off to Savannah, Georgia. Like little orphan Annie, Cee Cee instantly goes from an abusive, loveless existance to a wondrous world of prosperity, hope and friendship.
A huge lump formed in my throat when I read this exchange between Aunt Tootie and Cee Cee.
“Your mind must be swimming right now, but I want you to know that I’ve got a big ole house with plenty of room, and I’d love to have you.”
Those six simple words echoed around me and filled the room with light: I’d sure love to have you…I’d sure love to have you…
My shoulders began to shake, and to my disbelief, hot tears spilled from my eyes and ran down my cheeks. Aunt Tootie wrapped me in her arms and pulled me close.
Wow! I can tell you right now that this book is going to be one of my faves!