Corked: A Memoir

Kathryn Borel, Author
Kathryn Borel, Author . Grand Central $23.99 (262p) ISBN 978-0-446-40950-6
Reviewed on: 11/16/2009
Release date: 02/01/2010

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.)