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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kabak, Carrie: Cover the Butter

  Amazon  

4 stars

he last straw for Kate Fenshaw isn't so much the disgusting residue from her son's party that greeted her return home after a weekend away--the congealed egg on the wall in the kitchen, the pool of some stranger's urine by the back door--but rather her husband Rodney's reaction to the mess, to what she'd had to do to make things right: sheer indifference. TV on, Rodney barely listens to her complaints, and something inside Kate snaps. It was a long time coming, we learn, as Kate falls later into an alcohol-washed sleep, and we fall with her out of the book's prologue and into Kate's past. We land thirty years later in 1965 and watch Kate's sometimes heart-rending struggles to assert her independence from her sharp-tongued mother Biddy, a woman who doles out her love so stintingly that Kate remains hungry for more of it for the rest of her life. For the next thirty years Kate never really manages to shake off her mother's dampening influence. Her life follows the usual arc: college and marriage, friendships and motherhood. She is by no means miserable, but true happiness is precluded by her relationships with her mother and her spouse: she is smothered by the former's expectations, and virtually ignored by the extraordinarily egocentric Rodney.

 

Cover the Butter--the title, at least in its literal sense, refers to her parents' post-prandial habit of doing just that--is a nicely written, often moving story. While its subject matter is on the heavy side--mothers can crush their young, and men can be bastards--the book is not a depressing read. Its writing is lively and light, and Kate's soul is never in fact extinguished by the innumerable injustices and small abuses she is made to bear. The book, however, is over-long. Some 30-50 pages could probably have been cut without it losing its impact, and a tighter story would have made a more gripping read. Even at its current length, however, the book comes recommended: the author tells Kate's story well, and it's a tale that a lot of women will probably recognize as an exaggerated version of their own lives.

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