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Femme bookend: Saving Ceecee Honeycutt

Escape the clutches of insanity

I'm fated to go mad.

Why so, my dear? You seem sane enough.

You don't know my family

Ah yes. The genetic taint. You fear that you'll be struck down by mental illness because it's in the family? What you need (apart from learning about genetics) is Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.

Which is?

A cosy novel of the Deep South. CeeCee, 12-year-old Cecelia Rose, is minding her increasingly disturbed mother. Her dad has gone on the lam and is present only in maintenance cheques.

And this will help me how?

Be calm. CeeCee's mother is killed, and her great-aunt Tootie swoops in and brings CeeCee to Savannah, Georgia, to a world run entirely by ladies.

Georgia? KKK fanatics?

Of course, the racism question raises its head. Tootie's housekeeper, Oletta, is black and proud. But in this simple story, simple decency wins out.

How unlike life.

Not always, honeychile. Oletta, Tootie, their nutty neighbour Miz Goodyear and Oletta's friends in the old folks' home, all help to heal the troubled child.

Sounds sugary.

Certainly not safe reading for diabetics. But kindly and reassuring for anyone too taken with the current craze for seeing DNA as an unstoppable force.

No villains?

A horrid neighbour, Miz Hobbs. But CeeCee gets her revenge by kidnapping her bra and photographing it in various locations, and sending nasty Miz Hobbs the photos with nice notes.

Beginning to like the sound of it.

It's a big hit in America, where its simple story chimes with the nostalgia for a supposedly kinder past.

Best thing?

The sense of place. Interior designer Hoffman's writing brings Savannah and its people lovingly into your mind.