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Corked: A Memoir Hardcover – February 16, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
In 2005, 20-something Canadian Borel and her 60-something French-born hotelier father set out by car on a days-long French wine safari. Borel, who works at the Canadian Broadcasting Company, desired a deeper connection to her father, but was also seeking escape from both the aftermath of a recent breakup and slightly older memories of a fatal car accident for which she bore responsibility. The trip's early stages were strained by travel sickness and father-daughter bickering, and as the abundantly detailed tour improved and progressed, the shadow of her father and his mortality fell ever sharper, if sometimes self-consciously. Borel's father emerges as a storytelling curmudgeon with a penchant for public humiliations who instinctively retreats into inappropriate humor; the narrator, meanwhile, comes across as emotional if not downright maudlin, and candid if not completely narcissistic. She lacks her father's knowledge of wine, a shortfall she covers with seemingly childish behavior. But then her wine-tasting experiences lead Borel to genuine breakthroughs, making her more confident and, in effect, bringing her relationship with her father to a breaking point. The narrative ends in a reconciliation that, like the whole book, is refreshingly unsentimental, grounded, perhaps to an extreme, in flashes of candor and humor. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Canadian journalist Borel and her father explore the great vineyards of France. No mere wine-tasting jaunt, this journey represents what may be the last opportunity to heal their fractious and dysfunctional relationship. Borel’s aging chef-hotelier father continues to address her with juvenile-sounding nicknames and refuses to acknowledge his adult daughter’s emotional needs. These have grown especially heavy for the author to bear since the breakup of a particularly intense affair with her boyfriend and in the wrenching, life-altering aftermath of a deadly traffic accident. Borel struggles to rise to her father’s longing for a daughter as knowledgeable and enamored of wine and food as himself, but she disconnects from the experience. Despite the buried secrets and intense emotions, Borel writes with plenty of humor as her father’s absurd perfectionism gives birth to many dramatically charged encounters with natives as the pair progresses about the French countryside. --Mark Knoblauch
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Top customer reviews
This book is about a daughter (Kathryn) who suffers from depression after a tragic accident and is plagued by the thought of her father's death. In order to get to know her father better before he dies, she suggests they embark on a wine tasting trip through France.
The book, for me, was a very difficult read. I felt as though Kathryn were trying too hard with big words and a great deal of metaphors which often made no sense to me. I found myself thinking "get to the point" on numerous occasions. I wanted to stop reading the book after only a few pages, but continued to read it for two reasons: a) I was hoping there was be a big turn and it would get interesting. So, I wanted to see what would happen- would her father die? and b) I thought I would not have been able to give you an accurate review had I not read it all.
For me, the book did not become interesting until page 250- then I began to smile. Kathryn and her dad have a sort of "aha" moment and their wine trip (which is almost at the end) becomes enjoyable for both the reader and the father-daughter duo. Otherwise, the book was painfully long, filled with Kathryn letting us inside of her thoughts, where she goes off on nonsensical rants often. Torturing us with stories of her ex-boyfriends, their break-ups and the like.
Her father, though, was extremely likable and I enjoyed reading the stories of his past that he would share with Kathryn from time-to-time. I also enjoyed reading about his angry fits that he would have with certain people they meet. As a woman who has a highly complex, on again-off again, love/dislike/happy/sad relationship with her own father, I completely "get" Kathryn's dad as he is presented in the book. I get her embarrassment with him at times, but still love him. He is who he is and at the very end of the book, Kathryn learns why.
We learn the names of many towns in France as well as types of grapes. We meet very interesting keepers at the wineries they visit and go on at-times boring tours through the imagery Kathryn uses.
Something that I did find very annoying was the fact that though there is a great deal of French language used in the book, only some of the language is translated for the reader. I, myself, studied French for seven years and I am slightly familiar with the language, having lost it along the way. I felt bothered, though, for the reader who knows no French and therefore a piece of the storyline is lost for them because they do not know what is being said.
Having said all of this, I am no better for having read this book and it was a completely torturous read and waste of my time. You, though, may feel differently about it.
The author starts out with a vivid scene in which she appears to be simultaneously disgusted by and thoroughly afraid of her father. This scene takes place several days into the trip, so then we have to backtrack and see how we got there. When we get to the point in the narrative where the scene actually takes place, the behavior does not seem consistent with the dad we have come to know at that point.
Kathryn and her father are probably two of the most unpleasant travel companions anyone could imagine, what with all the spitting and vomiting - way more detail than a normal person wants. Kathryn has hit and killed a pedestrian with her car, and has the nerve to point out that it's easier for her victim because he's dead and doesn't have to live with the horrible memory. Oh, yes, and she has just broken up with her boy friend but obsessively checks her voice mail hoping he has left her a message telling her he can't live without her. Honestly, the line when he told her he was no longer in love with her was the most satisfying moment in the book. I don't usually reveal plot points in my reviews, but I was so annoyed with the author most of the time - readers need to know that from the author's perspective, it is all about her. The author attempts to depict herself as a saint for taking this trip with her father, and also a victim - truthfully, I felt sorry for him much of the time. Every human being, much less one's own father, deserves more respect.
The relationship between Kathryn and her dad is overlaid with this self-conscious wackiness. They have inside jokes. I guess that is supposed to mean they love each other. That part doesn't work for me either.
If this were a novel I would probably not have so hard of a time with it. As a memoir, the author's frame of reference is too narrow and too alienating to enable me to care about her. Yes, there is some interesting information about wine. (Every time the author remembers some snippet from those long-ago lessons in her dad's basement and blurts it out at the appropriate time, we are supposed to cheer for her, which kind of ruins the fun.)
The blurb on the back cover calls this book hilarious. Maybe some people see it that way. I think it is kind of sad. Both the author and her dad have been through hard times. I wish I could be more sympathetic but I do not want to spend any more time with either one of them.
The book was a tough read for me because I actually don't get along with my dad and the dad in this book reminds me of him, although I will not compare myself at all to Kathyrn! The book is not a happy story, but the real goings-on between two similar people who are not meant to get along. I feel bad for them, but at least they have a sense of humor. I do applaud the author though for being honest and sharing her story, as crazy as it is. I hope though she get's in a better mood for her next book.
I was given this book to review, but it is 100% my opinion.