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Book Reviews: Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship by Cathie Beck

Posted by mandyf on February 28, 2013

Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship by Cathie Beck is the type of book I wouldn’t normally read unless it was free. The premise of this was however somewhat interesting in that it is a memoir that centers around two bipolar women that are elitist in that they see no fault in themselves, but plenty in everyone else. If nothing else I figured that this would deliver some witty humor and keep me marginally entertained while on the toilet which is all I generally expect out of books people that receive them for free to review, but give them away without reading a chapter, are apt to deliver. Still the story line seemed like it had promise even if it was all too familiar.

Initially I thought Denise was going to be a delightful character. She is mired in self defeatist thinking, because she has MS one would assume, and alienated me the more I read until I began wishing she would blow her brains out and the book would be over. Cathie is annoying at best, and a manipulative whiny woman with serious issues that gets worse the more you read. Why I read far enough to find that out I’m not really sure as within the first ten pages of this book I wanted to throw up, and actually may have done so in my mouth a little.

Right away we are introduced to Cathie’s belief that she and by proxy her children are the best and brightest beings to hit the face of the Earth as is evidenced by the following passage: “I knew that I, and subsequently my children, were far superior to the other women and kids sitting on the orange plastic chairs…. I knew I was better than everyone else in that office because I was the smart girl, the clevah one.” If that doesn’t want to make you kick someone in the ribs, especially in the first few pages of a memoir, I’m not sure what does. It’s not like we’re reviewing the memoirs of Elanor Roosevelt or Madame Curie and are predisposed to perhaps cut a little slack on the ego run amok.

As the book progresses we see that Denise is basically a loose woman messing around on her husband whom she, and incidentally Cathie as well, profess this deep emotional love for. They further cement that love by stealing his money to maintain their boozed up and pathetic partying lifestyle? Seriously? These are “characters” that show zero integrity, less self respect if possible, and not even a passing thought of showing basic human dignity or compassion towards another living soul it would seem. Rather than being troubled but endearing people, they just come off as arrogant self

intended pathetic…things…not even people. It’s hard to believe anyone actually lived this life and thought it worthy of pulp or bandwidth. It begs the question as to who in their right mind would want to share this?

It appears to be mostly well edited and the cover art is nice but hardly original. A pink caddy heading up the road, gee who hasn’t gone with that visual theme for a story of two women bonding? Within four chapters I knew I was never going to finish this book. By the start of the fifth chapter I didn’t even feel guilty for just skimming it lightly and then even giving up on that. Unlike most memoirs of this type I couldn’t find the redeeming quality that made me want to like these people. I didn’t want to turn pages, I wanted to tear them out and considered buying a bird so we could line the cage with them. I personally had a crossing thought that if these people were in the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music, I would have been hard pressed not to root for the Nazis.

Overall my general impression is that if you really enjoy reading the thoughts of someone that obviously thinks she is better than you and is quite happy to point it out ad nauseum, this is a good book for you. If you think that making fun of people because they are different, or you just happen to think you really are the best thing to hit the planet since Christ walked Earth, maybe you will see yourself in this and enjoy it. If you really enjoy raunchily recounted “poor me” type memoirs this might be for you. Otherwise save yourself the time and watch Thelma and Louise or Boys on the Side, or anything this seems to be aiming for but misses successfully imitating.


Caf du Monde Publishing

ISBN: 9781439244395, 390 pp.


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