Sunday, June 26, 2016

Shakespeare Retold: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

The Hogarth Press, founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1917, launched the Hogarth Shakespeare project last year. Acclaimed and best selling contemporary novelists are retelling the Bard's stories for modern audiences.

Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl is based on The Taming of the Shrew. The play has been adapted into movies and the Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate and is the inspiration behind 10 Things I Hate About You.

Vinegar Girl introduces us to the quirky Battista family. Kate is a college drop out working as a teacher's assistant and running the house for her eccentric scientist father and younger vacuous sister Bunny.

Kate's father has a problem. His valued assistant Pyotr Shcherbakov's O-1 visa is ending. Kate's dad has hatched a plan to match Kate and Pyotr, if not for love at least for a marriage of convenience. After all, at twenty-nine Kate has no other suitors. Kate is beautiful, but as her employer puts it, she is lacking tact, restraint, and diplomacy. Her directness delights her preschool charges, but gets her in trouble with their parents.

Pyotr is no charmer himself. He is attractive, but for all his research ability he is unwittingly disorganized and is oblivious about appearances. Pyotr seems cheerful, but he is lonely and homesick and his life is 'meager.'

Tyler's story is funny and her characters interesting. It is a wild ride to the altar, with stolen lab mice and fist fights. The book is light and fluffy, a nice beach read. The misogyny of the original story is gone. Tyler has given us a happy ending where two misfits allow each other space to be themselves.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Vinegar Girl
by Anne Tyler
Hogarth/Crown Publishing
publication date June 21, 2016
$25 hard cover
ISBN: 9780804141260