Vinegar Girl is one of a new series of Shakespeare retellings, the Hogarth Shakespeare. I was intrigued as soon as I heard about them, especially since they were using several well-known authors. Anne Tyler wrote this one, and while I’ve never read any of her other books a couple of them have now been added to my TBR list.
This is a retelling of the famous “The Taming of the Shrew,” and I really very strongly feel that without a prior knowledge or reading of the play, you won’t enjoy the book very much. It’s quite short, only 237 pages, and to me felt like a novella read. Which is fine! I finished it in about 2 hours during a very slow afternoon at work (getting paid to read, but my boss doesn’t know that, hehe).
I really appreciate that Tyler was able to keep the humor aspect of the original – I laughed out loud at several points. Kate and Pyotr are quirky separately and amusing together. Kate’s tone is barbed but witty, and she comes across as not truly intending to hurt with her words but simply not seeing any point in the niceties of social interactions. The whole arranged marriage set-up is handled as a scam to get Kate’s father’s scientific assistant – Pyotr – a green card. Kate is understandably insulted and hurt by the scheme, but through a series of discussion and events – and a grudging sympathy for Pyotr – she is convinced.
Next, Kate and Pyotr on the living-room couch, a foot of space between them, Pyotr grinning broadly and doing his arm-along-the-seat-back thing while Kate, stony-faced, poked her left hand toward the photographer to display her diamond ring.
Bunny – Bianca – is translated into a selfish, spoiled teenager, which seems fitting but limited her role somewhat more than in the original. There are a few other plot points of the original that are left out as well, but all things considered the story is definitely recognizable and it works. The interspersed text messages are a nice touch.
The one big issue I had was the iconic speech Kate makes at the end of the original play. That, to me, was the crowning jewel of the play. In this book, there is a speech, of sorts, but it feels rushed and flat. The epilogue kind of made up for it, but still. All in all though, the book is 4/5 stars. The writing is beautiful, succinct, and a real pleasure to read.
Hi Kate! We went to get marriage license!
Your father and I.
Well I hope you’ll be very happy together.
Many thanks to Blogging for Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my rating or thoughts on the book! 🙂