Vinegar Girl: A Novel (Hogarth Shakespeare) Review

  • 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?

 

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Through the Hogarth Shakespeare project, which is attaching contemporary authors to classic Shakespeare works, Tyler has been given the task of contemporizing the famous battle of the sexes play, “the Taming of the Shrew’. Here Kate is a young headstrong assistant teacher at a private school living with her scientist father and dim witted sister who hilariously finishes all her sentences with questions: “I need a tutor? And Papa said it would be fine?” If this was an original novel and not an adaption there’s plenty to charm, but to me it’s not really channeling the source material. Contempo Kate seems more direct than wildly headstrong, and Petruchio, now Piotr, seems nothing more than a handsome foreigner whose middling grasp of the English language provides chuckles here and there. There’s no fire between them both, no real battle of the sexes, so this slim novel ends up feeling slim on conflict as well.By Brett Benner

Entertaining contemporary retelling of the Taming of the Shrew. If you aren’t familiar with the play, it’s still a fun read, but if you know the play, you’ll pick up on lots of details that Tyler weaves into the story. Instead of Kate the Shrew we have Kate Battista, a girl without great social skills who works as a preschool aide and takes care of her beautiful younger sister and her eccentric scientist father. Enter Pyotr, her father’s research assistant, who’s about to be deported unless he can marry an American. You can guess who her father has in mind. Kate wants nothing to do with it, but in the end she comes around. This play is not easy to plant into contemporary life, but Tyler does a good job incorporating some of the main plot elements and the spirit of the original play.By M. Tanenbaum

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Product Details

Author: Anne Tyler
Kindle Price: Hardcover $18.84, Audible $24.32, Audio CD $29.75
Series: Hogarth Shakespeare
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Hogarth (June 21, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804141266
ISBN-13: 978-0804141260
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces
Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,689 in Books

By Mark