The Prologue is the first "test" in Carrie Kabak's razor-sharp
first novel, COVER THE BUTTER. If you can get past wanting to hit
something (or someone) hard at every second paragraph, to scream
out loud in anger and frustration, or to laugh yourself silly with
empathy, this book is definitely for you. But be warned: it's not
always what it seems.
Right from the vista of post-party domestic destruction that
assaults the mind's eye on page one, Kabak goes straight for the
visceral in female lives as she traces the tortuous but
oh-so-believable path of Kate Cadogan, "doomed to succeed" from
childhood to womanhood.
In fact, if you take her carefully detailed first-person journal
one vignette at a time, Kate could seem painfully ordinary. She has
lasting and temporary girlfriends, lasting and temporary men, a
fire-and-ice relationship with her neurotic mother, a secret
sympathy with her nagged-to-death dad, a magical understanding with
her grandparents, and a "good" marriage that inwardly bores her to
death. What's to get excited about? Are we in for one long, blaming
But that's just the outer shell of Kate Cadogan's life, the part
the world casually sees and just as casually dismisses. In nature,
many smooth, plain shells are actually complex wonders of internal
engineering, built on the principle of ascending spirals. When Kate
confides to her gently rebellious Welsh grandfather that she often
dreams of a spiral staircase, he assures her that it's a sign of
purpose and meaning. She may have to keep looping back into the
past to better understand herself, but she'll never be trapped
there because the spiral of life keeps on going up.
Following Kate's nonsequential journal, we travel together through
unavoidable dangers and disappointments that often balance
precariously between "I understand" and "I told you so." For in
this unique spiral journey, the sweet rarely leaves the bitter, the
fear rarely separates from anger, and the courage rarely walks
Yet, whenever one least expects it, Kabak's outstanding flair for
ironic, sometimes even twisted humour, holds it all together. Kate
often surprises herself into hope and happiness and the reader is
right there, not just witnessing the ambush of deep emotions but
fully participating as well.
Intense, frustrating, outrageous, hilarious, heartwarming, but in
the end almost magically vindicated, Kate Cadogan builds an
extraordinary life through the adventurous pen of Carrie Kabak. If
this is only her first novel, we have much to look forward to.
Every woman whose heart was ever broken had better grab it quick
and then start campaigning (as only we can!) for a sequel.
Reviewed by Pauline Finch (firstname.lastname@example.org) on December 28, 2010
Cover The Butter