In Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship, author Cathie Beck pulls the reader in with the dramatic, poignant, — and surprisingly funny — memoir of having two kids and being a single mother at a terribly young age. She writes in a way that makes you feel as if you’re waiting in line with her to get approved for welfare, or being hosed down by a snooty girl at the amusement park on a particularly hot summer’s day. I feel as if these are my own memories when I look back at the book now.
After Cathie’s kids are grown she becomes an empty-nester at only 39 years old. She’s ready to live the wild life she missed out on. The only glitch in the plan is that she doesn’t have a group of girlfriends by her side. In a twist exactly opposite of Sex and the City, Cathie never had time to surround herself with ladies-who-lunch because she was busy raising her kids.
So she put an ad in the paper.
Reminiscent of Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison, Cathie’s ad calls for a gathering of like-minded women. She whittles down the responses to just a handful, then eventually down to one – her soon-to-be-best-friend Denise.
This is where the book takes an emotional turn. Denise has multiple sclerosis, and the book takes place before advanced treatments for symptom management were created. The fact that Denise was in denial about what was happening with her body didn’t help matters.
Despite the book’s title, I’d pair Cheap Cabernet with Dry Creek Winery’s Dry Chenin Blanc. This wine seems like a fun, flirty summer wine at first glance, but the first sip reveals its deep, complex flavor. Cheap Cabernet – judging by the title and cover alone – looks like any other summer beach book. There’s nothing wrong with a quick-read beach book, but it’s also satisfying to dive deeper into a true memoir filled with the rich complexities of real life, heartbreak, and happiness. Dry Creek Winery’s Dry Chenin Blanc is too good to power through on a hot summer’s afternoon — it has to be savored. And so does Cheap Cabernet.