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Southern charm at it’s best

March 12, 2012

“Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” by Beth Hoffman

Reviewed by Natalie

A testament to the power of love and friendship, this is a superb novel.

Set in 1960s America, and told in the first person by 12-year-old Cecelia, this is the moving story of her tumultuous young life.

Her mother, Camille, a one-time beauty queen, has been largely abandoned by her travelling salesman husband as her psychosis deepens into full-blown 100% crazy. Young CeeCee, although loved, has to cope with caring for herself and her mother, as well as being the butt of town jokes. Her only friend is her elderly neighbour, Mrs Odell.

One day, Camille is horrifically killed in a vehicle accident.  CeeCee’s father, busy with a new family, sends her to Savannah to live with her Great-Aunt Tallulah – a relative she’s never met.

Fortunately, Aunt Tootie and her housekeeper Oletta, immediately envelop her in the homely warmth of their enchanting Southern world. Full of interesting characters, genteel society, love and solace, this world helps CeeCee through her grief, as she builds a new family.

One of the stand-out minor characters is Miz Goodpepper – the bohemian 45-year-old divorcee who wears exotic clothes, bathes in her outdoor tub at night, has a roaming peacock,  and is bent on exacting revenge on the neighbourhood busybody.   She lets CeeCee borrow her library … “Is the Kama Sutra a volcano? CeeCee asked Miz Goodpepper. She gasped and splashed lemonade across the counter. The strangest look streaked across her face as she replied “Well, some might think it’s a volcano of sorts, but I can say with absolute assurance you wouldn’t enjoy that book”.

Finely drawn characters play across the screen of your mind in vivid Technicolor. Beautifully phrased, with delightful descriptions.  Sink into this novel, and you won’t want to resurface until the last page. I loved it.  9/10

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