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Cover the Butter    by Carrie Kabak order for
Cover the Butter
by Carrie Kabak
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

This is the story of a repressed housewife, married to a bossy, self-centered man with little regard for her as a person. She watches him rush from their home to live his own life on the playing fields. The reader follows Kate Cadogan through her life, from schoolgirl to married lady. From the 1950s to the 90s.

But a reader finds that Cover the Butter is not the usual, run of the mill, romance gone wrong scenario. This story is written from the heart, with humor and candor, and with the knowledge that many women lived those lives of quiet desperation, fooling themselves that this was the existence meant for them, so that they could accept their lot in life.

Set in Great Britain, the novel covers the styles and moralities of the times. Kate's next biggest problem to her husband is her pushy, domineering, live-by-the-faith Catholic mother. Her solace? Her son Charlie and her father's parents living in Wales.

This book is a must-read, full of pathos, as well as situations that will make you angry. I wanted to strangle Kate's husband Rodney. Were there really men like him? Are there some still out there? I expect there are. God help us. Don't miss Cover the Butter. But be prepared to block out the time you need to read it. It's very hard to put down.

2nd Review by Melissa Parcel:

At forty-four, Kate Cadogan has finally reached her breaking point. Returning from a disastrous weekend trip with her husband of twenty years, she finds her lovingly decorated home completely destroyed as the result of a party her teen son had while they were gone. Kate wonders how on earth her life turned so completely sour. After downing a few glasses of wine, she takes a trip down memory lane, beginning in 1965 when she was just fourteen.

As she remembers each year, Kate muses on her experiences growing up in England with her controlling mother and weak father, and on life-defining friendships that are her true salvation. Her relationships with the opposite sex, as well as her choice of a career (in teaching rather than catering) were all strongly colored by her mother's influence. In the end, Kate must decide whether she will take a step of faith in herself, or continue to live a life of mediocrity.

This is an interesting combination of coming-of-age story and family saga. Kate is a fascinating character. It's not clear why she allowed her mother so much control over her life, but her journey through it is realistic and will touch many readers who have experienced similar situations. Her life is a slippery slope of indecision and acquiescence to please others (which may frustrate readers, who will want Kate to rebel and grow up much more quickly than she does). It is crucial to understand Kate's relationship with her mother in order to comprehend why she stays with her husband as long as she does.

This is a solidly written debut novel. Kabak has a strong grasp on characterization and her dialogue keeps the reader involved. The first person account fits the plot perfectly and does not detract from getting to know the secondary characters. Although this is a redemption type of story, Kate's path is not typical and keeps interest fresh. I did find it irritating that, even after she finds strength on her own, Kate is impelled to rush into another relationship. That felt forced - an obligatory love story tacked on the end. Regardless, Cover the Butter is a fresh and witty novel that readers will be able to relate to on many levels.

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