Cover the Butterby Carrie Kabak
Kate Cadogan's teenage son has just broken her heart. Her husband, on the other hand, just breaks her spirit. It's time for Kate to journey back and trace the path that got her to this point-her obsessively controlling mother and weak-willed father; the best friends and boyfriends; the career choices, food choices, hair choices, and all the other twists and turns… See more details below
Kate Cadogan's teenage son has just broken her heart. Her husband, on the other hand, just breaks her spirit. It's time for Kate to journey back and trace the path that got her to this point-her obsessively controlling mother and weak-willed father; the best friends and boyfriends; the career choices, food choices, hair choices, and all the other twists and turns that led to the life she lives today
- Penguin Group (USA)
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.83(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
On Sunday, April 16, 1995, I vowed I would never sleep with my husband, Rodney, again.
It was the day I opened the door to 75 Copper Lane and swung my luggage onto the tiled floor of the hall. Then I remember skidding, and landing hard on my rear. As I sat in cat vomit, Velcro greeted me, waving his string of a tail.
I hoped that was all I would find after my neighbor Pam had accosted me outside with: �Bad news for you, I�m afraid, Kate. We had to call the police.�
What the hell happened?
�Shit, what happened?�
�A bit noisy in the wee hours. High spirits, that�s all. You�re a brave soul, letting Charlie have a party.�
Party. Oh damn, yes, the party. Tossing my jacket in the direction of the washing machine, I headed for the kitchen in search of mop and bucket.
And I froze.
I stood for a while with my eyes closed until I felt ready to look again.
Shards, chunks and splinters of glass formed a neat pile in one corner. Congealed egg yolk streaked down walls. Curtains hung by one hook from rails. The dishwasher yawned open with a load of beer cans and foil cartons. In the sink, cigarette stubs and globs of pizza floated in beige water.
And a stagnant pool puddled by the back door.
Someone had peed in my kitchen.
To hell with the sunflower-yellow cabinets I�d sanded and painted, the shelves I�d sawed and measured for the turquoise canisters. To hell with all the blue-striped salt and pepper pots I�d collected for eighteen years. Eighteen years! To hell with the floor I�d stripped and polished until my knees throbbed. Someone had peed in my kitchen.
I ran upstairs and banged on my son�s door with clenched fists.
�Follow me,� was all I could say.
And he did. He sauntered downstairs with a coffee mug in his hand.
I stood in the middle of the mess and looked at him, and when I read the cool indifference in his face, tears stung my eyes.
�Chill out, Mom,� he said. �It was just a party. You know�gatecrashers and all. No big deal.�
Charlie didn�t care. It was at that point I remember drowning in a spin of fury and confusion. He didn�t bloody care! Smashing plates to the floor, and why the hell not, please let me join in the fun too, I watched them explode into little pieces. Six, seven, eight, nine shattering plates. And when I was done, when I saw Charlie gazing through the window, tapping his foot to a tune in his head, it was then I slumped onto a chair and covered my face with my hands.
What had happened to my little boy? I felt his downy head under my chin, smelled his familiar baby-scent of talcum powder and milk. I heard his first words, his chuckling laugh, saw again the liquid of his brown eyes. I ached with love for him, but reality had punched me hard in the stomach this time. As much as I wanted to hold him, and search his face for the love I couldn�t see anymore, I resisted.
I snapped a paper towel from the roll to blot my face. Now bend down, Kate, open the doors under the sink, and throw the paper towel away. I gave myself orders, needing to function.
Above the bins a limp condom hung over a pipe like a dead slug.
I�d hardly noticed Charlie�s transition from child to . . . to the age when . . .
He peered under the sink. �It�s not mine,� he said.
�Get rid of it.�
I sent him to his room. I didn�t want his help. I needed the time to think. To plan. As I tidied, disinfected, scrubbed, and bleached, I drank three double shots of Rodney�s Scotch, one for each hour, and somehow managed to put a meal together afterward. Charlie ate it, then left.
Sleep, eat, leave. That was the pattern now. Sunday, April 16, 1995, was the day I realized I could no longer cling to the reason I�d stayed so long. My son was no longer a child. I�d filled this home with handmade quilts, chutneys, stripped pine, and wicker baskets. I�d built this nest twig by twig for Charlie, but he no longer needed it. Or cared for it. I wasn�t sure if he cared for me anymore.
When the cotton wool left my mouth and the knot at the back of my neck unraveled after too much single malt, it was time to taste the musty oak in a glass of Shiraz.
I set wine, a slice of bread, and a wedge of cheese on the table and sat down to think some more. Then in came Rodney.
�You�re back,� I said. �How was the golf?�
He slammed his house keys onto the pine table I waxed every day and walked over to the microwave. �Is this my dinner?� He peered at the plate inside, then jabbed at the buttons to warm his meal.
Mephistopheles snarled and Marguerite wailed. I�d put on opera, Gounod�s Faust, and I�d turned it up good and loud, really loud, to help me think. Rodney snapped off my music, switched on the TV, and proceeded to watch the history of the Wolves Football Club.
He stared ahead at the screen and twirled strings of pasta around his fork. The starchy ball wouldn�t fit into his mouth, so he gobbled at it.
His hair stuck up in tufts and I tried to find it endearing.
I tried to love the sound of his voice. �Kick the ball into the bloody net, you great fairy,� he growled, waving a fist.
I tried to yearn for the touch of those thin lips that bristled with a moustache the texture of coconut husk.
�Rod, look at me for a second.� I searched for emotion in those milky eyes. �Charlie�s party got out of hand.�
His eyes floated back to the TV.
�Rod, they drank beer and more besides, and for some reason, they stacked the cans in the dishwasher and dropped an empty bottle of vodka into the fish tank.�
�GOAL! And about sodding time!�
�At least, I think it was empty. Goldie seems none the worse, but Fred is swimming in spirals and Mabel is floating belly-up. A couple of our lamp shades are cracked, the brandy goblets are in pieces, and should we cut Charlie�s allowance to pay for replacements?�
�The referee�s blowing the whistle. Would you bloody believe it?�
�Isn�t the game you�re watching three years old? I�m afraid I smashed nine plates. Someone peed in the kitchen and you won�t believe what else I found. Five broken canisters, four exploded light bulbs��
�They should sack that wanker.�
��along with three French hens, two turtle doves, and a condom in a pear tree.� I think I was pretty drunk by then.
�Rod,� I said, �I feel a bit sick. I think I�ll sleep on the sofa tonight.�
I made a bed with a quilt and pillow. When Velcro settled on my tummy, I closed my eyes and drifted onto the deck of a ship that bobbed and dipped, and when it lurched, I slipped into rolling waves. Water gurgled in my ears, but within minutes I shot to the surface and drank in air inside the kitchen of 75 Copper Lane.
I climbed a spiral stairway, because I saw a tiny door at the very top. I stumbled up the steps, fighting for breath because the atmosphere was heavier than lead. There was a table next to the door, with a key lying on it. But when I reached out, it vanished. Searching for somewhere to escape, I saw a hole full of light, but the soil crumbled when I tried to scramble out, and I fell down, down, and dirt filled my mouth and I couldn�t shout out. I heard the hollow drip of water and down, down, I went.
Saturday, April 17
33 Cherry Blossom Road, Dorton,
United Kingdom, Europe, Planet Earth
I bite my lip. �Can I have a suspender belt instead?�
My mother, Biddy, runs her nail along the top of a packet to split open the cellophane. �You need a girdle for support,� she says, pulling out a corset the color of salmon-paste. �And take that look off your face. It�s a beautiful foundation garment.� She pats her fresh hairdo, a lacquered helmet, before opening a second packet.
Spirals of stitching, three sets of hooks, powernet panels, and longline, too.
It�s one hell of a bra.
�Try it on,� she says.
I fasten it at the front, swivel it around, and pull the wide straps over my shoulders.
My first bra, and I loathe it.
�Mum, I really don�t think I have enough to fill these cones yet.�
�They�re called cups, Kate, and sure, the size is only a small thirty-two A.�
�The other girls have trainer bras.�
�Fine. And in two months they�ll all need a good brassiere like yours.�
Snatching Biddy�s shopping bag from the floor to see what else she bought, all I find are a couple of pastel twinsets, a pair of brown stirrup pants, and what�s this? Drop earrings. All for her, nothing cool for me. A cheap shift dress would have been okay, one of those polka-dot ones with a Peter Pan collar.
Or a trainer bra.
�Kate, stop poking inside my bag.�
I pull out a leaflet before I stop poking. It shows a busty blonde skipping around Piccadilly Circus wearing nothing but my salmon-paste set. �With the firmest control,� she says, eyebrows arched, teeth flashing, �my Cross Your Heart bra shapes and my girdle flattens.�
�Hey, Mum, did you see this? �Shapes and flattens with the firmest control.� �
�I read it in the shop,� she mutters.
�Don�t I have enough control already? Forget the girdle. You�re doing a great job.�
�What a smart aleck you are, Kate. Pity you�re not as quick at school.� Biddy claps her hands over her ears. �Would you turn down the music? That Mick Jagger eejit gets on my nerves.�
Holding the girdle by its suspenders, I dance toward the radio.
Biddy�s lips are all pinched and tight. �Stop jigging about half-naked,� she says. �And put the girdle in your underwear drawer. Look after it nicely.�
Turning the radio down, just a touch, I hear the soft thud of footsteps.
�Your father�s coming upstairs�quick, cover yourself, Kate. He shouldn�t be seeing you like this.�
She points at my chest and moves her finger in circles.
�You mean Dad mustn�t know I�ve grown breasts?�
Biddy picks up her shopping bag. �Don�t be disgusting. You know what I mean.�
Well, I suppose I do know what she means. Dad did look a bit upset last week when Aunt Shauna said, �Tom, will you just look at Kate, sure hasn�t she got the loveliest little figure, and won�t she be turning boys� heads soon?�
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I just read this awesome book by Carrie Kabak,if you're off to buy a book this weekend i'd HIGHLY recommend you pick this one up,i promise you won't be dissapointed .. if you've got a list of books to read add this to the top today and grab a copy as soon as you can.Here's my review of 'Cover the Butter' by Carrie Kabak a book every woman should read ... Kate is in her early 40's and fed up. She's got a mother,Biddy,whose spent her life putting her down and can't give her a compliment without making sure Kate knows there's always a bad side to everything but she can sure make her feel bad without giving her a compliment to go along with it.She's got a husband,Rodney, who wouldn't know what love meant unless it involved a ball of some kind or his overly eccentric family and a son she adores but who is rapidly growing away from her. However not everything's bad in Kate's life .. she's got grandparents who adore her,two friends who are there no matter what life throws at them all and a cat. But is that enough ? Carrie Kabak's 'Cover the Butter' is an indepth look at one girls life from her awkward early teenage years and first bra through to her early 40's and realisation there has to be more to life.I'd recommend this book to any and all women i know,those with overbearing mothers and those who wish to avoid ever becoming one,those who can relate to feeling like you've never been dealt the best hand and those who've sailed through life never having been cursed with a Biddy or Rodney of their own so you can realise how truly blessed you've been. As someone who grew up with her own 'Biddy' i found this book enthralling,i couldn't put it down and the further i got into it the more i found myself identifying with Kate and willing her to stand up to her mother,or willing her father to.The characters are so well written you can't help but ache for Kate's pain and sometimes humiliation while wanting to reach in the book and shake the living daylights out of those who continously put her down and make her sad. Fun,humiliation,sorrow,laughter and tears Cover the Butter has it all in huge spoonfuls and then some,Kabak's writing is engaging,warm and insightful and i'm eagerly awaiting the chance to read more from this first time author.If i was going out today wanting to buy all my girlfriends a book this would be the one i would choose because every woman deserves to know we should never settle and that it's never to late to say i want more.
I finished COVER THE BUTTER just moments ago and am absolutely floored. Kabak's three-dimensional characters pack a lot of emotional punch: this novel had me crying, laughing, smiling, cheering, you name it. The book was so hard to put down because Kabak's tight, vivid prose whisks you through chapters quickly and effortlessly. Part of the book's appeal is that, in Kate Cadogen, there is a little bit of every woman. You can't help but identify with Kate's struggles, her pains, her joys. What can I say--Kabak's fiction is mesmerizing. What an awesome debut on which to build a writing career. I can't wait to see what she writes next.
Carrie Kaback has done a beautiful job of telling a deep, compelling story in an accessible style. It's rare to find a book that is both meaningful and a delight to read.
I have one big complaint about this book. It was supposed to be a holiday read, a book that would last me a long weekend in Paris. In fact, I'd read the whole thing before the Eurostar even reached the suburbs. I don't know what happened--I think I got sucked in. Before I read COVER THE BUTTER the title intrigued me. Now I understand where the phrase comes from (but I'm not going to tell you), and it seems an apt metaphor for Kate's life before she breaks free--everything unpleasant hidden, tucked away, ignored. My favourite scenes were the ones where Kate's mother Biddy appears. She's truly wonderful, but a character so acidic she makes you wince. Take this book on holiday but make sure you bring other books, too. You'll probably finish BUTTER before you even get off your plane.
What an impressive debut. Kabak has a way of picking the exact unexpected detail in a scene that really takes you there and makes it real. Her attention to small things, like the cologne the guys wore back in the day, makes this a superior work.I rushed through it in two days. It was that good.
Character driven women's fiction, above all, needs a heroine who lives and breathes and evokes your deepest emotion, so you'll follow her from page one 'til the end. Carrie Kabak gave us just that in her stirring and emotional debut. You'll weep with and cheer for Kate Cadogan. Kabak's lively writing will spirit you away to Wales, Ireland, London and Provence. Already, I can't wait for Kabak's next book.
Funny, heartbreaking, and altogether brilliant, Kabak's debut chronicles the journey of Kate Cadogan, a woman whose life is largely controlled by other people: first, by her psychotic mother (in the form of unconscionable interference and emotional manipulation), and then by her boor of a husband (whom she marries largely to escape her dreadful mother). It isn't until her child is fully grown that one final act pushes Kate Cadogan into action. The ending is explosive, the results inspiring. Kabak's narrative style is crisp and clean. There's not an ounce of spare fat in this meaty book. I loved it top to bottom. Keep an eye on Carrie Kabak--she is definitely an author to watch.
COVER THE BUTTER by Carrie Kabak is a wonderful coming of age story set in Great Britain in the 1960's and 70's. Kate constantly battles her parents, in particular her mother, with everything she does, from clothes to hairstyles to the boys she wants to date. While the story starts off in 1995, the bulk of the novel goes back in time with Kate as a teenager, trying to be as normal a teenage as possible, growing up in a dysfunctional household. COVER THE BUTTER is a coming-of-age story you won't want to miss. Carrie Kabak is an author that I will definitely keep my eye out for!
Carrie Kabak's novel 'Cover the Butter' is a captivating page turning novel that weaves insight into how family affects you forever, the importance of loving supporting friends, the power of love and reflection on the choices one makes. Kabak's novel is about a middle aged woman who still has a lot more of life to live. The main character, Kate Cadogan is always controlled by someone else. Kate is a people pleaser that takes off her blinders to reflect on how she is always someone's daughter, wife or mother as a result of few glasses of wine and a travel back in time. Upon her return she wants to begin a life where she is in charge and can explore her true passions. This contemporary novel is rich in British culture, mannerisms, and customs. As the reader you find yourself laughing one minute, crying the next, and reflecting on your own life choices. Although you can not help but want to know what is happening next, you do not want the book to end. Definitely a must read. - Dana M Burns, Queen Mystic of the Mystical Dixie Pixies, Oxford, Alabama.
I highly recommend that before you even consider cracking open this book, you make sure to set aside a long block of uninterrupted time. Otherwise the 'just one more chapter' that you keep saying to yourself is going to give you some late nights and cause havoc in your day to day life from not being able to put the book down because you are dying to find out what happens next. These are some of the most well rounded characters that I have come across in a long time. As the main character is reliving points in her life, starting at when she was almost fourteen to a woman in her forties, Kabak keeps true to the age and voice of the characters. They never seem as being 'older than their years' and you believe the age and time Kate talks about. I found myself getting swept up in Kate's first crush, her first love, her marriage of comfort and motherhood as well as the heartbreak in-between while the whole time trying to figure out who Kate was. I also found myself just as frustrated with Kate's mother Biddy and her attitude, hurt by her father Tom not standing up for her numerous times, and the joy and strength her two best friends Ingrid and Moira bring to her life. I could also feel the internal struggle Kate had with growing up Catholic versus the societal experimentation and wanting to be a part of what went on in the sixties and seventies as well as the search for the balance between the two. I wanted to will Kate the strength to say out loud what she was thinking backed into a corner. I was deeply disappointed when she would continuously back down out of fear and was equally joyous when she finally took a stand for her own life her own way. I love books that make you think, I love books that make you react, I love books that make you care about the characters and l love books that make you want to tell everyone you know about it. This book struck every chord with me and I can't wait to see what's next from Carrie Kabak.
In her debut novel, Cover the Butter, author Carrie Kabak has delivered the reader a true reason to stay on the couch reading all day long. I read this book within 24 hours, because I was unable to put it down! ....After a bottle of wine and a vow to never sleep with her husband again, we follow Kate's story back in time. Kate takes us through her life, from her early teens to the present, with such humor and grace that we can't help but fall in love with her. Kate's life is peppered with amusing people, including the types of best friends every woman should have. The characters in this book are very well developed, and brought out a range of emotions. I found myself frustrated with Kate at times, and at other times rooting for her. I haven't felt this connected to a character in a very long time. The only problem with the ending of this book is that it came too soon. I became drawn into Kate's world, and was sad to have to leave it when I got to the last page. This is one author I know I will be looking forward to reading more work from.
Women of all ages will find themselves in the pages of Cover the Butter. Author Carrie Kabak, writing with provocative prose and heartfelt humor, weaves a vivid tapestry of the hills and valleys that fill the landscape of our lives. With a refreshing voice, the author explores universal themes close to the heart of every woman. The story celebrates life long friendships and delivers a first chance to discover the glories of second chances. Kabak understands that equal parts wit and wisdom are necessary survival skills in a woman's life. This book is a must read for anyone who has ever struggled, persevered and prevailed. Carrie Kabak offers a hopeful perspective that is a unique gift to all readers of Cover the Butter.
Cover the Butter is witty, classy, and powerful. This novel is Carrie Kabak's pristine premiere novel, which is written in a unique style of a diary. Arriving home from a holiday, to find her world is not how it could be, nor should be, Kate Codogan starts her journaling at 33 Cherry Blossom Road, Dorton, United Kingdom, Europe, Planet Earth. But this not like just any diary, it's Kate's and Kate's life. While coming of age in 1965 where there is peace and love, first loves, and attending a parochial school, Kate yearns to be fab and solid, just like her very best-friend-ever, Moira. And Kate's choices of friends, boyfriends, career ambitions, style of living, are always displeasingly voiced by Biddy. As a matter of fact, Biddy is just displeased about everything and everyone, especially Kate. During her marriage, she fashions a home which every woman desires, but she is lost within her marriage; moreover, she is lost within herself. So, Kate slips back in time and opens her diary. Carrie Kabak's writing is delicious. She brings forth all your senses of color, taste, texture, depth, pain, sorrow, and finally, warmth. While reading 'Cover The Butter' one desires to know what Carrie Kabak will bring to the next entry in journal-novel. When I turned to the last page, I was completely fulfilled and applauded Carrie Kabak for her outstanding writing and storytelling, which should be cherished.
I have finished Carrie's first novel 'Cover The Butter' and found it to be humorous, touching, sensitive and very realistic to every day life. Kate is a person many of us can identify with easily. The book was well written and a great read. I look forward to many more from this new and talented author!
In Dorton, England forty-something Kate Vadogan comes home after being away for a few days to find a disaster. Apparently her teenage son Charlie hosted a party that got out of control leaving their house a ruin and apparently the police came to end the gala when neighbors complained. Disgusted, Kate questions Charlie, who¿s indifferent. She turns to her spouse Rodney who was home, but he tells her he has a golf date and leaves. Other efforts to reach Rodney fail as he ignores her to watch sports.................... Disappointed in her two men, Kate drinks several glasses of wine to forget her woes. As she gets drunk, she suddenly travels back three decades to 1965 when as a young teen she is about to obtain her first bra. Kate sees herself as a suppressed youngster raised by a harsh dominant mother and a feeble father. With her two best friends at her side, she begins to enjoy life, but which Kate will become the two decade married woman, the suppressed soul who always covered and refrigerated the butter or the passionate person who joined with her family enjoying the butter?....................... Similar to Peggy Sue Got Married, COVER THE BUTTER is an insightful family drama. Kate¿s frustration seems totally right until readers realize that there are a series of small insignificant matters that Kate turned into Mount Everest driving her males into avoiding her. COVER THE BUTTER is a deep relationship tale with a fantasy twist that enlightens Kate that leaving the butter uncovered is not life significant; don¿t sweat the small stuff and work those that matter.................... Harriet Klausner
Author Carrie Kabak¿s first novel, Cover the Butter, follows the life of Kate Cadogan Fanshaw. When we first meet Kate, she is a middle-aged woman who discovers the wreckage of a party held by her teenaged son. This event, combined with the uncaring, disinterested attitude of her husband, Rodney, throws Kate into an Alice in Wonderland-like review of her life in order to figure out exactly how she arrived at her present destination. We follow Kate back to girlhood and observer her developing friendship with her best friend, Moira, her unhealthy relationship with her critical, demanding mother, Biddy, and her first forays into love and sex. Her teenaged years in particular are quite reminiscent of Maeve Binchy¿s bestselling Irish novels, although Kate¿s home is in England. As Kate becomes an adult, she continues to allow others in her life¿namely her mother and her husband¿to make her decisions for her. Thus we return to the start of the novel and Kate¿s realization that she must live her own life. I enjoyed following Kate along this journey, but given the amount of time that it took Kate to arrive at this new place in her life, I was a bit disappointed by the haste in which the final few chapters wrapped up her transformation. Furthermore, I thought that the author made some odd choices as to the action which she included in the narrative¿for example, the death of Kate¿s step-grandfather is a major event, whereas the death of her beloved grandmother Mamgu is mentioned only in passing. Despite these minor criticisms, I found this book to be an entertaining and enjoyable read, and I would definitely be interested in reading the author¿s future work.
COVER THE BUTTER, Carrie Kabak¿s exquisite debut novel, examines the buoyancy of the human spirit. After finding her lovingly restored home in shambles from her teenaged son¿s party (a rollicking yet poignant scene that alone is worth the price of admission), Kate takes a searing look back at how her life, too, has come to be such a mess. Belittled by her domineering mother, failing to find an ally in her feckless father, Kate struggles to make her own voice heard beneath the white noise of everyone else¿s demands. Kabak¿s writing brings alive even the most prosaic objects (I defy anyone to find better descriptions of décor and food, for example) but her gifts are most evident in her rendering of human relationships. Kate¿s interactions with her mother, Biddy, are by turns horrifying, hilarious and heartbreaking; Kabak perfectly captures the mother-daughter dynamic, the tangled knot of loyalty and knowing when to let go. Kate¿s relationships with the men in her life are drawn with equal force and a keen wit¿most notably the scenes with Rodney, her priggish yet sexually peculiar husband. ('His hair stuck up in tufts and I tried to find it endearing,' Kabak writes. 'I tried to yearn for the touch of those thin lips that bristled with a moustache the texture of coconut husk.') Kabak¿s voice is so vibrant and achingly personal I felt as if I¿d known her heroine for years, and her story¿and ultimate redemption¿stayed with me long after I turned the last page. Carrie Kabak is a brilliant new talent, and I eagerly await her next effort.
A brilliant first novel, COVER THE BUTTER is superbly written and filled with humor, crisp dialogue, and clear-eyed descriptions that will leave the reader gasping with pleasure. Kabak doesn't merely tell you about Provence; she takes your hand and leads you so close you can smell the lavender and feel the sun on your skin. Her unique voice and poignant prose will linger in your mind long after you've turned the last page. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book as much as this one, and I look forward eagerly to Ms. Kabak's next novel.