Book review: Vinegar Girl [The Taming of the Shrew Retold]

Anne TylerI love Anne Tyler’s writing. It is so simple and under-stated. She lets you slip so easily into the head and the world of her characters. This is her re-working of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Generally I dislike these artificial re-writes, but I made an exception for Tyler. After this, I may try some of the others.

Kate is a pre-school teaching assistant and housekeeper for her distracted scientist father and teenage sister. She is dissatisfied with her life, can never seem to get things right, but doesn’t know how to change things. Admonished by her headmistress for being too frank with her young charges, she is not in the best of moods when her father introduces her to his lab assistant, Pytor. He seems a lumbering foreigner and Kate does not understand her father’s eagerness that they meet. Pytor has a problem, his work visa is about to expire and he must leave the country. Kate’s father is frantic, he simply cannot lose his irreplaceable assistant or his research project into autoimmune disorders will fail when it is so near success. What happens next is predictable except Tyler turns Shakespeare’s tale of Katherina and Petruchio into a modern tale about tolerance and freedom, without the overtones of ‘man tames untameable woman’.

Read my review of A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.

If you like ‘Vinegar Girl’, try these other American novels about family:-
‘Some Luck’ by Jane Smiley
‘Housekeeping’ by Marilynne Robinson
‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen

‘Vinegar Girl’ by Anne Tyler [UK: Penguin Modern Classics] Buy at Amazon

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A modern-take on a caustic tale: VINEGAR GIRL by Anne Tyler #bookreview via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2bj