The Divining Wand

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Beth Hoffman and
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

October 25, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


On January 12, 2010 Beth Hoffman’s debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, was published and — only twelve days later — the book became a New York Times bestseller. Now one wonders how quickly it will take the Trade Paperback edition, releasing tomorrow (October 26, 2010) to take its place on that list as well.

The book described as, “Exemplifying Southern storytelling at its best…” received the ultimate ★ Starred Review from LIBRARY JOURNAL and endless Raves and Reviews have followed. And they’re all for a simple story that is both wise and profound.

The original idea for the novel came from when Beth, at age nine, visited her Great Aunt in Danville, Kentucky as she told bookreporter.com:

“From the moment of my arrival it was culture shock of the best kind. There I was, a shy little farm girl suddenly in the midst of a world I could have never imagined. I was in awe of the massive old homes, the towering trees, and the lush flower gardens, and I was enthralled by the Southern dialect. 

My great aunt Mildred was an accomplished, highly educated woman, and she was a true Southern lady. I’ve never met anyone more gracious, and I suspect I never will. Everyone was welcome in her home, and she greeted people with a smile that was as warm as it was genuine.

Added to that experience is my fascination with the complexities of mother/daughter relationships, so all those things became seeds for my idea. And I adore eccentric personalities and the architecture of the American South. Each of those elements built the framework of my story.”

Please click the Author Video link to listen to why and visually enjoy how important the sense of place was in defining the story. But, of course, the character of CeeCee was most important and, while outlining the novel, the author suddenly heard Cecelia Honeycutt loud and clear. In fact Beth confirms that she also heard the wise cook/housekeeper:

“Yes, CeeCee told me her story, and I was amazed by how clearly I heard her voice. The same is true for Oletta. In fact, Oletta was so real to me that I wept when I typed THE END. I knew I would miss her terribly. And I do.”

From their personal tales the storyline evolved into the following back-of-the-Hardcover-book synopsis:

Back-of-the-book blurb: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when disaster strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell who whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Now read an Excerpt from Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.

As might be expected, there are reviews galore on this bestselling debut, with one blog writer even likening CeeCee to Cinderella. Hmm, if this charming — albeit occasional bittersweet — story feels like a fairy tale at all, then it’s reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Interestingly enough, though CeeCee is a voracious reader, she never once mentions a favorite fairy tale. Perhaps it’s her age or the reality of her life that leads her to read and reread Nancy Drew books for, after all, didn’t Nancy always solve the mysteries(problems) in her world? Also books are CeeCee’s only friends until she’s whisked away and rides by the sign that proclaims: Welcome to Savannah.

The lush, detailed descriptions of her new home, the women who surround her, and the experiences that change her all flow effortlessly through this 12 year old’s voice. Whether heartbreaking or joyous, there is emotional enchantment present on every page as well as more than a few messages/lessons for all of us to learn. As Great Aunt Tootie relates the importance of “Finding your fire” and Miz Goodpepper reflects on the power of Karma, The Divining Wand asked the author which message saved CeeCee? And Beth said:

“I believe all the messages melded together–each one helping CeeCee to heal and be able to move forward. But the one message in particular that CeeCee took to heart was when Oletta said, “’People is wise ’cause they get out in the world and live. Wisdom comes from experience—from knowin’ each day is a gift and accepting it with gladness. You read a whole lot of books, and readin’ sure has made you smart, but ain’t no book in the world gonna make you wise.’”

Beth Hoffman was wise. Wise enough to walk away from her successful interior design business and move forward to her dream of writing a book that echoed what she had heard from her own grandmother and Great Aunt. That power of women’s friendship had impacted her more than she realized and, after four years of writing, she had her novel.

The author insists, “All I wanted to do was write a story with characters that I loved and believed in–characters who, individually and collectively, had something important to give a little girl who had a rough start in life.” In Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth has accomplished that and much more. Refreshingly kind, and enchanting, “CeeCee” offers an open heart to women of all ages. If you have yet to read it, oh please do. And, if you have already read it, consider this edition as a special gift for anyone…..young adult to your grandmother. Because this bestseller is truly THAT good!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

19 Comments to “
Beth Hoffman and
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt


  1. I have read this book, and it is one of very few books that made me cry (The Time Traveler’s Wife was another). I would absolutely love to get my hands on a copy of my own, because it is absolutely an amazing read.

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  2. I enjoyed this peace thank you for sharing. It was a pleasure to read and now I want to read Beth’s book. Glad I stopped by.

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  3. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is one of those books that keeps you reading into the wee hours of the morning. What a gem of a read!!!

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  4. I’m not surprised to hear how passionate Beth was about her characters. I firmly believe that a writer’s passion transmits from the story to the readers, and from what I’ve heard, that’s exactly what happens to anyone who reads Beth’s book. I can’t wait to get bit by the bug! 😉

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  5. Great article as usual. Would love to read this book

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  6. I’ve heard soooo many good thinds about this book & would love to read it. Please enter me, thanks.

    ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

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  7. This book-a-holic would love a copy!

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  8. Paula Esposito says:

    Saving Cee Cee was recommended to me at a wonderful bookstore in Seaside FL, I don’t normally cry when reading a book and this one really had me choked up. I bought another copy of the book and mailed it to one my favorite southern lady for her birthday. I have passed my copy on to many friends and family members that I am so thankful to have in my Life Book.
    I wish everyone could be blessed with an Aunt Tootie and Oletta!

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  9. I’ve not read this book but would love to. It sounds great. I’m a southern girl and love reading about the South.

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  10. Colleen Turner says:

    I have heard nothing but wonderful things about this book! I have not had the opportunity to read it yet, but I will definitely be doing so in the future! Thanks for the giveaway and the reviews/information about the book.

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  11. Too exciting! Couldn’t help but enter. I’m looking forward to reading it.

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  12. Cee Cee is on deck on my kindle! (And, I don’t want to be a book hog–especially since I just received my prize, “The Love Goddess’ Cooking School” book in the mail today–thanks Divining Wand!)

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  13. Kim Smith says:

    I’ve heard many great things about this book. I’d love a copy to read

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  14. Kristen De Deyn Kirk says:

    CeeCee sounds like the kind of character I would like to read about as I think about my New Year’s resolutions next month: I love to be inspired!

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  15. Thank you for the chance to win:)

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  16. I would love to read this book…thanks for the chance!

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  17. LOVED this book. Congrats on the paperback release, Beth!

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  18. I don’t know how I missed this book when it was out in hardcover. It sounds wonderful. I am particularly drawn to both Southern fiction and young heroines with strong female mentors. This is a must read for me!

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  19. I would love to win a copy of this book. It is on my TBR list and getting close to the top. Please count me in, and thanks for the chance!!!

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