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Corked: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Kathryn Borel
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 2 2009
Meet Kathryn Borel, absurd bon vivant and daughter of duty. Now meet her father, Philippe, former chef, eccentric genius, and wine aficionado extraordinaire. Kathryn is like her father in every way but one: she doesn't get it when it comes to wine. And although Philippe has devoted untold parenting hours to delivering impassioned, oenological orations, she has managed to remain unenlightened. But after an accident and a death, Kathryn realizes that by shutting herself off to her father's greatest passion, she will never really know him. So, she proposes a drunken father-daughter road trip. As they drive through the country, meeting with vintners, touring vineyards, laughing, screaming, panicking and fighting, they watch the birth, development and maturation of a very special part of their relationship: the ability to connect over wine. This is the uncensored account of their tour through the great wine regions of France. Kathryn's tale is uniquely told in her fervent and personal voice, and her stories are passionate and unpredictable, shocking and very funny. By turns uproarious, poignant, and filled with cunning little details about wine, CORKED is a book for any reader who has sought a connection with a complex family member or wanted to overcome the paralyzing terror of being faced with a restaurant wine list.

Corked was featured as one of the best books of 2009 in Quill & Quire, the National Post, Eye Weekly, and The and was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

Product Details

Product Description


Corked was a finalist for The Stephen Leacock Award for Humour and was featured as a best book of the year by the National Post, as a staff favourite by Eye Weekly, and in Quill & Quire’s 15 Books that Mattered in 2009 

"Borel has talent and charm to spare, a literary wunderkind in the making."
Quill & Quire

"The end result, not unlike drinking good wine, is entertaining and just a bit intoxicating."
National Post

"Some readers may shy away from Borel's openness, but this book is unique precisely because it is Borel."
Globe and Mail 

"With biting humour, unparalleled narcissism and tremendous heart, Kathryn Borel visits French wine country with her eccentric father Philippe to learn more about his unbridled passion. Among the revelations of their two-week sojourn are a personal tragedy and her father's deepest, darkest secret. Corked is Canada's funniest debut of the year; Borel is non-fiction's new, boozy superstar."
Eye Weekly

"In her debut memoir, Borel unpacks a tragicomic father-daughter drink-fest through the finest French vineyards."
Marie Claire

"Every now and again, a remarkable autobiographical tale manages to reaffirm even the most cynical reader's faith in the power of sharing deeply personal stories. Corked, a memoir by Toronto writer Kathryn Borel Jr., is one of those books."

"Borel deftly captures the confusing emotions that surround parent-child relationships. A fast-paced read with nuggets of wine trivia that will appeal to anyone who has struggled to understand their parents."
Kirkus Reviews

"Refreshingly unsentimental, grounded. . .in flashes of candor and humor."
Publishers Weekly

"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."

“I have some trouble with empathic embarrassment. Improv, live comedy, gymnastics, figure skating, awards shows—this is just a short list of things that result in a screaming pain through the centre of my hands. It’s always worth it in the end, the jubilation and intense relief of seeing the person emerge safely on the other side, if not entirely unscathed. The point being, I’m surprised I could even hold this book. And yet, I can’t stop talking about it.”
—The Mark (


"This totally lovely and laugh-out-loud hilarious book marks the arrival of an auspicious new comic voice. Her metaphors are like no one's. I chug-a-lugged, and misted up at the end. I'm going with Kevin Kline as the father, and Ellen Page to star."
Henry Alford, author of How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth)

"Kathryn Borel has written a funny, quirky, bittersweet memoir full of wry wisdom on the subjects of wine, grief, memory, France and family."
Jay McInerney, New York Times bestselling author of How It Ended

"Corked is a fevered road trip that takes us deep into the heart of family mystery, emotional thirst and, in luscious counterpoint, the vineyards of France. Kathryn Borel is a caustically witty companion who writes with unsentimental, unsparing insight about the distant, inscrutable father traveling beside her."
Leanne Shapton, author of Was She Pretty?

"Kathryn Borel's fresh, loud and hilarious voice carries the reader through the hallowed winegrowing regions of France with the same unique energy, irreverence and honesty she uses to explore her volatile father's soul, psyche and love for armpit treasures. A must-read for anyone who has ever shared a bottle of wine (corked or otherwise) with a larger-than-life-parent...anyone with a beautifully sick sense of humour and a serious love-hate relationship with the universe."
Ibi Kaslik, New York Times bestselling author of Skinny                                                                      

"If you would like to know what you look like, you bedraggled, devoted daughters of men with big personalities, pick up this mirror. It's a fun-house mirror. And it's all reflected here-the frustration, the love, the bewilderment-in prose that is vintage Borel: colorful, manic, sensitive, twisted, brilliant and brave."
Sheila Heti, author of Ticknor and The Middle Stories

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Father daughter wine story March 17 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It was cute, had some well written passages but also had some weird moments, seemed like she was sharing with her therapist some dark moments of her past and struggling to bond with her father. I was a little disappointed in the book, which had a strong beginning, weak middle and average end.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It just didn't do it for me April 6 2010
By BookChick TOP 500 REVIEWER
Despite the fact that she has spent her life being parented by him, Kathryn Borel feels that she doesn't truly know her father. Phillipe Borel is a retired hotelier and a former chef, and wine is his passion- something that he has tried to pass on to his daughter and failed. Despite the fact that Kathryn and her father are so much alike in many other aspects, this is one way in which they differ. After a death and an accident Kathryn realizes that life is fragile and that her dad will not be around forever, so she embarks on a two-week wine tour with her father in an attempt to get to know him better.

Kathryn and Phillipe tour through Alsace, Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone, and the Languedoc tasting wines, liquor, French breads, and cheeses along the way. They encounter a bout of food poisoning, rude winery owners, and new friends, and at the end of the trip they will either have killed each other because they are so alike or Kathryn will understand more about her father because she has explored his great passion in life- wine.

I love a great memoir; I like being able to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, experience a new era or way of life, or travel through countries that I've never been to. Unfortunately "Corked" didn't do anything for me. I found myself feeling indifferent as I read, often thinking "So what?". I'm not sure why exactly this one didn't resonate with me more than it did, seeing as I also have a father who loves me deeply, but whom I am too similar to, so frequently arrive at misunderstandings with. The journies through wine country, the wine tastings, and the vineyards just didn't make me care enough about the story to actually enjoy it. At times I found it to be rather forced, this journey to understand her father.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars honest Oct. 6 2009
An excruciatingly honest story of the relationship between father and daughter...written with a distinctive style laced with humour to make you laugh out loud and emotions to make you deeply sad...writing of a courageous frankness. Borel dares to say and write what many think but do not dare to utter. A page turner which you cannot lay down until you have finished it.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to like in this book May 7 2010
The father has no likable qualities, neither has the daughter. They are both self absorbed and I am glad I don't know either one of them.
A book about wine and France, with no mention of food except dry toast.
Absolutely awful!!!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun and delightful read Nov. 16 2009
By Sol
Kathryn's story in a way parallels my own relationship with my father - infuriating, estranged at times, and one that is far more confusing than I'd like it to be.

After reading this book, I found myself wanting to go explore France for myself. The book itself is an easy read - and I say that in a good way. It doesn't get bogged down in any kind of aggravating self-importance (something too many books fall prey too), and is a great read when you just want to enjoy life.
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