Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is a re-imagining of the Taming of the Shrew in modern times. Kate is stuck taking care of her father’s household, a scientist relegated to the corners of academia, on the verge of a breakthrough, who relies on his brilliant lab assistant Pyotr. Kate works at a preschool during the day and in the evenings tends to the garden as well as making sure her younger sister is studying at least somewhat instead of just mooning over the neighbor boy.
When Pyotr is slated to be deported (visa expiration), her father suggests the unthinkable in this day and age – marriage – to keep him here. The two men try to win her over and Kate ultimately ties the knot, as we know she would. And now the fun really begins.
I liked the setup but isn’t quite faithful to Shakespeare. Kate isn’t a shrew by any means; she is brusque and forthright in her manner, extremely dependable and competent; and the clash between Pyotr and Kate isn’t really about male dominance or the husband being the head of household, rather a culture clash. Tyler takes too long to get going with the main plot; the preschool bit bogs the book down. Once Kate’s marriage is imminent, the pace picks up and rollicks right along. The ending is superb.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for a review copy. I'm crossposting this on Amazon.