It’s that time of year again. Well, given that The Hogarth Shakespeare Project is coming out with two titles this year I guess it’s better to say it’s that biannual time of the year. Anyways, The Hogarth Shakespeare project has again released another book into their collection and this time it is a retelling of Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew. While I can admit the only interaction I’ve had with The Taming of the Shrew was the movie 10 Things I Hate About You I was genuinely excited about this release because it seems that this particular Shakespeare play is pretty versatile when it comes to retellings. Want to know what I thought of Anne Tyler’s crack at The Taming of the Shrew? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
Vinegar Girl is the story of Kate Battista, a twenty-something with an eccentric scientist father and a trouble making younger sister, who feels stuck. Stuck in a pre-school teaching assistant’s job. Stuck running the in’s and out’s of her father’s home. Stuck. Meanwhile Kate’s father, on the verge of a medically breakthrough, is about to lose his lab assistant Pyotr due to deportation. Dr. Battista, desperate to keep Pyotr, concocts a plan to have Kate help Pyotr help stay in the country. This time however, Kate has to wonder, has her dad gone to far?
Well, there was a lot in this book that intrigued me, and there was a lot that turned me off by the end of it.
Firstly, why on earth did Tyler not call Kate’s younger sister Bianca is beyond me. Calling the character Bunny, especially after keeping Kate’s name close to her Taming of the Shrew counterpart Katherina really made no sense to me.
Secondly, the whole love angle was downright rude. I mean, I know Dr. Battista was on the “verge” of a medical breakthrough but tricking your daughter into marrying your assistant so that you don’t lose your help made that kind of offensive. Yes, I understand, this is very Taming of the Shrews given that this is basically what Baptista Minola does in the original play, but still.
Also, I really didn’t understand the need to introduce a character like Adam, only to underutilized him in regards to the Kate and Pyotr “romance”.
I have to say, the book did keep me enthralled enough that I read it in basically one sitting, but I just felt that some aspects didn’t help this retelling.
Finally, I really did enjoy Kate’s speech near the end of the book about how it must not be easy for the other sex. Sometimes, and I would admit to doing this, I see the plight of women as something no man can attest to. However, not many man, or at least not many men I know, fit completely within the definition of “masculinity,” and for those who don’t, life can be just as uneasy.
This book wasn’t that great of a The Taming of the Shrew retelling, but I must say, if you forget what play it’s trying to retell, it is a good enough story in and of its own making.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.