This week instead of an update I am doing another duel review. The first being a review from the dregs followed by the review for Beth Hoffman’s more recent novel.
This is one of my all time favorite books. If I remember correctly this review isn’t terrible. Possibly because I cared about its contents more than usual.
Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Group)
Page #: 306
Genre: Historical Fiction
Now I don’t know if you have read my other book reviews, but this seems quite outside of my common reading list and it is. I am an avid fantasy and paranormal reader so why was I moved to buy a historical fiction book. I can’t say what it is exactly. I was looking through a bunch of books and saw it. I figured I’d buy it and when I read the excerpt I realized what may have been the moving factor. A majority of the novel takes place in Savannah, Georgia during 1967 which was the home of my grandparents up until the year prior to that.
Now with the strange choice in book aside, I should probably start talking about what I thought of it. Equally as surprising I loved it! It was such a heartwarming story. With historical fiction I am often bored but the plot kept moving. It wasn’t particularly exciting but the characters were fantastic. When the characters are moving and inspiring I will always continue reading.
Our cute young female lead has felt alienated her entire life. Her mother’s mind slowly deteriorated to an incoherent mess and her dad works a job which requires him to travel all the time. She is embarrassed by her mother and forced to take care of her starting at a young age. When her mother tragically dies (not a spoiler the flap tells you this so if the author concedes it ahead of time it is not something that you should be bothered by) her father packs her up and ships her to her great aunts house in the south.
CeeCee’s new world is surrounded by women role models. They all seem to be single either widowed, divorced or never married. This creates a sort of inspiring thing where woman can be quirky and inspirational without men. There is hardly ever a man mentioned and if you actually meet a man he is not shed in the best of lights. Some of the men are remembered fondly but there are very few throughout the book.
The characters and the story are extremely heartwarming and I would really recommend reading it. Like I said this book is outside my comfort zone and I still loved it.
Obviously my taste in books has changed. Actual that was made clear to me recently. I think time has changed my palette quite a bit, or I’m just more honest with myself about what I enjoy and what I don’t, or I still like the books I used to like, I just can’t read them nonstop like I used to. I need more variety now. That includes what Goodreads categorizes as Chic Lit.
Now for the more recent review. A lot of you remember my mentioning that I had finished and enjoyed Looking for Me, well here are my thoughts on the novel in depth.
Title: Looking for Me
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Page #: 354
Genre: Historical Fiction
I am somehow nostalgic over a place and time that I never experienced. I really enjoy going back to southern fiction set in the middle of the last century. I have no idea why. Beth Hoffman writes novels that make me feel like I have gone home.
Unlike her last novel, the main character is for the majority of the text an adult in her thirties. I am not an adult in my thirties, I barely qualify as an adult as it is, and yet I was still able to identify with her. Teddi is the type of woman that I hope to grow up to be. All of the characters in this novel in fact had aspects that I would gladly take in. The conflicts within the characters are all very raw and real. I felt the way they dealt with them were realistic and in line with what I expected from them.
I think that the plot of this novel bring together perfectly feelings of family, loss, and love. This text almost had me in tears at various points. Beth Hoffman knows how to perfectly capture an emotion whether through memories or in the moment. I felt for all of these characters no matter how quirky they were. I felt like the conflicts were resolved in a way that was both timely and respectful. The only complaint I had here was that while I was reading I felt like the romance was a bit forced. I saw that it was being set up throughout the text but I didn’t think it was necessary. I understand why it was there, and I’m glad that it was a background element but I don’t think it would have made a world of difference to me if it wasn’t there at all.
The novel takes place in two places, Teddi’s family farm at various points throughout her life and then the city of Charleston. I visited Charleston last summer and the text brought me back to the sights and smells of the city. I honestly feel like I could navigate both of the locations with my eyes closed. The descriptions of the houses and natural surroundings were outstanding. It is obvious that Beth Hoffman has a passion for preserving history. Her last book focused on the restoration of old houses, this text focuses more on the restoration of furniture.
All in all I loved it. Beth Hoffman has a way of warming my heart with her books and I really appreciate it. I would recommend giving it a try, even if you don’t usually read “chic lit”. I think “chic lit” gives books like these a bad name. They describe a persons life and thoughts just like any other, just because it follows a woman and not a man seems to make it unworthy of male readership. I think anyone who values family and has even a fiber of empathy in them would be able to enjoy this book. Really, give it a try.