I received an ARC from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Vinegar Girl (Hogarth Shakespeare)
Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Summary (from Goodreads): Pulitzer Prize winner and American master Anne Tyler brings us an inspired, witty and irresistible contemporary take on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies
Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.
Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.
When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?
Perfect for fans of retellings, this whirlwind of a story by Anne Tyler is a very enjoyable take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The concept of Vinegar Girl is a very unique and modern version of the classic tale that gives the story a new outlook. Kate, our protagonist is a witty and relatable character for today’s society. This is a reimagined version of a classic that really had me glued to its pages.
Prior to reading Vinegar Girl, I was excited to learn about The Hogarth Shakespeare series. There are so many amazing titles that will be releasing over the next few months by some well known authors in this series of Shakespeare retellings. A more in depth description can be found in the trailer from the publisher’s website.
Vinegar Girl is one of these retold stories written by Anne Tyler and it is just that: a retelling. Tyler takes the original story and reworks it to provide the reader with an updated tale that fits with our world as it is today. I really love the plot that Vinegar Girl contains and I think that it is a very witty look at how a young, unmarried woman feels in this day and age. For die-hard fans of Shakespeare and the original storyline, I can see a sense of disappointment that this book veers away from telling the story exactly as Shakespeare told it. However, an open mind that this is merely a story that is loosely based on the original will have the reader enjoying this amazing new version.
While all of the main characters are well-developed in Vinegar Girl and are wonderful in their own ways, I really enjoyed the character of Kate Battista the most. The idea of a woman who is a shrew in this day in age is quite laughable in its own sense. Today’s woman, in my opinion, is a fierce and strong individual who is not afraid to speak her mind. Anne Tyler definitely portrays Kate in this light and there are some real laugh out loud moments as Kate is so stubborn and set in her ways. Her gradual softening towards the end of the novel turns her into a very likeable and relatable character.
This story is a very quick read that is just over 200 pages and it really packs quite a punch. It can definitely be read in one sitting and this is what makes the series so incredible. To include so much detail and character development into a short little book makes it a perfect book for anyone. I highly recommend Vinegar Girl for those who are curious about this series and love a great retelling.