Friday, August 5, 2016

Vinegar Girl Breathes New Life Into Shakespearian Classic

One of the reasons I love reading Anne Tyler is her penchant for strong character development and character driven narrative. Vinegar Girl does not disappoint!

Vinegar Girl is Tyler take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew . This is one of my favorite Shakespearian plays since learning in the 6th grade my grandmother had once won a jingle contest for her entry for the movie Kiss Me Kate . (We were an odd family that spent Saturday nights watching black and white films on PBS.) Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I appreciated the feminist slant and strong female protagonist. Tyler maintains this in Kate Battista, eldest daughter of Dr. Louis Battista, research fellow for Johns Hopkins. I will let you read below the story synopsis provided by the publisher if you happen to be unfamiliar with this classic work.

Just 237 pages long, the novel is compact and a delightful afternoon read. I enjoy reading a modernization of Shakespeare’s works as it is always interesting to see what settings authors will choose to place the characters into as well as how the writer might tweak the character/s to fit. If you aren’t familiar with the original play, you may not even recognize this is a make-over. (I mean that as a compliment, not a criticism!) I loved the dramatic climax in the final chapter where Kate speaks her mind to the guests present at her wedding feast. She makes such growth throughout the book, I almost stood up to cheer when the classic moment arose.

Fans of Tyler will, I believe, enjoy this latest offering. If you’ve never read Anne Tyler, this is a fun way to discover her writing and style. Your book club will enjoy this too, (especially if you have chance to read the original or see one of the films based on it) there is quite a bit of fodder for discussion!

My thanks to Blogging For Books for the free copy I received in exchange for this honest review.

From the Publisher . . .

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?

About the Author . . .

ANNE TYLER was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her twentieth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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