One of the perks of being a bookseller is that we are fortunate enough to receive advanced copies of books. One of the disadvantages of being a bookseller is that we receive advanced copies of books. Why is this blessing such a frustration? Think about it this way; when you first finish a really good book what do you want to do? Put it down and forget about it? No, probably not. How about call up a friend and encourage him/her to pick it up? Ding, Ding, Ding! There’s a certain thrill and excitement when you can share a good book with someone. There’s that feeling of camaraderie, the intellectual stimulation, and the downright enjoyment you feel when you can connect with someone over a book. So, if you’re paying attention you get the bookseller’s dilemma. What do you do when the book you just read and loved isn’t available for 3 or more months? Well, you can get all of your bookseller friends to share your advanced reading copy or you can blog about it. So, here is my opportunity to share one of those books with you.
A couple of months ago there was this novel - Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman - floating around the staff (mainly the female members). It was a debut novel that takes place in the south, seemingly quaint, simple, “kind” chick-lit as I like to call it (you know the type, no sex or foul language, kind of dull). Not my cup of tea, so I heard the title and dismissed it from my mind. As the weeks rolled by the title started to creep up again in conversation. First I heard Vicki describing it as a heartwarming modern fairy tale, then Jan and Barbara were discussing it, comparing it to The Secret Life of Bees. A week or so later Adrian handed me her copy and asked if I would read it. I believe her words were, “If you like southern, you’re going to love this book”. Now, I’m not exactly Miss Southern Lit, but okay, my interest was slightly piqued, if only because I had just been told by 4 other booksellers that the book was good, and I needed something to read on my break. So, I went for it.
Here are my thoughts: Yes! Yes! Yes!
This wonderfully delightful novel absolutely grabbed me. The author, Beth Hoffman, has this smooth prose that captures the idiosyncrasies and nuances of southern life and style. The cast of characters is vivid in personality, feminine intelligence, and southern charm. Hoffman also manages to convey a hard core of strength and determination beneath her sweetly loving and exuberant female characters. This seemingly simple story of a newly motherless girl taken in by her great aunt is truly superb. It is both laugh out loud, and cry in the dark, a multi-dimensional story wrapped in the façade of a light and easy read. This is one of those books that you put down, and then pick right back up because you must find someone else to read it and enjoy it with you.
Do I hear Reading Groups clamoring yet? I should! As Janet told me “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is my new favorite book! I’m already telling all of my reading [group] friends and relatives to watch for it.” So watch for it! No one else should have to say to themselves “Why didn’t I pick this up weeks ago?" So, thank me in January (yes, you have to wait that long, but I promise it will be worth it) for introducing you to as Adriana puts it, “a delightful new novel that will charm and win over girls ages 10 to 100”. I’ll be waitin’ ya’ll!