How do some books get published? In the case of Corked, it is apparent that if Kathryn Borel wasn't a radio producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, her memoir would not have seen the light of day. It seems the Hachette Book Group took a chance on Kathryn more for who she is than what she wrote.
The angle focuses on the struggle of a father and daughter to connect. Kathryn records her mixed emotions regarding her father, Philippe. During a trip to France, they visit world-renown vineyards. Philippe is a wine connoisseur, while Kathryn is uncomfortable expressing herself in the language of the palette.
Her emotions are corked. They are not gaining release. Months prior to the trip, she accidentally killed a jaywalking pedestrian. Due to the coincidence of her boyfriend's father having previously died in a car crash, their relationship becomes strained and eventually ends. She cannot return the intensity of his love, yet she continues to reach out to him in moments of weakness. Kathryn is fully aware that she is selfishly using him, but can't seem to help herself.
Philippe's feelings, on the other hand, are always on the surface ready to explode or shrouded beneath a sulky silence. He's either making a scene in a restaurant over a perceived lack of service or refusing to utter a word during a winery tour due to the supposed impoliteness of their host. He also frequently acts inappropriately around his daughter appearing in nothing but a towel or discussing his sexual prowess.
An aspect that is especially grating is the display of insensitivity. In grade school, Kathryn joked about having Down Syndrome and reflects on the moment in a comical light. When arguing with her father while driving, she threatens to crash into a tree causing a murder/suicide. She continues to hound her ex-boyfriend with emails and text messages while having casual sex with three different men.
The pair's manners regarding hygiene are quite atrocious. Philippe reuses soiled Q-tips. Kathryn picks lint out of her belly button in public. They find camaraderie in the sentiment, "Do you ever get the feeling that you just want to take a baby and kick it across the room and watch it smash against the wall?"
Philippe is not the best of fathers. He has a hard time remembering Kathryn's date of birth. He lets strange men ogle his daughter's breasts without saying a word. But the main point of contention is that he didn't offer Kathryn the emotional support she needed after the accident. As their trip comes to a close, Philippe reveals a long-held secret about his past. Does this excuse his cowardly, selfish behavior? Does this revelation mark a turning point in their relationship? It's hard to say.
Overall, wine aficionados will delight in Corked's vintages, but readers thirsting for a heartwarming memoir need to open another bottle.
Corked by Kathryn Borel is available for $23.99 at Amazon.com and at KathrynBorel.com.
A complimentary review copy was provided by BookNAround.
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