Thursday, July 14, 2016

Vinegar Girl

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.


Mirka Breen said...

There's no end to how we can re-tell Shakespeare. But I am an Anne Tyler fan, and will probably look at this. While she thinks DINNER AT THE HOMESICK RESTAURANT is her best, (I loved it) I still resonate more powerfully to LADDER OF YEARS. Thank you, Vijaya.

Barbara Etlin said...

I'm a sucker for Shakespearean retellings, so thanks for the review. I might put it on my to-read list.

Johnell DeWitt said...

What a cool premise with a modern twist. I remember a field trip to Taming Of the Shrew, didn't get it at the time. :). Thanks for all your great posts.

Vijaya said...

Mirka, if you are an Anne Tyler fan, you will love this. I agree that my expectations marred the enjoyment. It's like when I've seen a movie and they didn't follow the book as I would've. Thank you for the book recs. I always appreciate it.

Barb, one of these days, I'd like to attempt a retelling.

Johnell, haha! Sometimes things can go right over my head too. And thank you for your kind words. I really love your new blog (and it allows me to comment!)