Thursday, 5 January 2017

Book Review: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (Hogarth Shakespeare)

Book: Vinegar Girl

Author: Anne Tyler

Adapted From: The Taming of The Shrew by William Shakespeare.

Publisher: Vintage

Pages: 228

Read On: Paperback

How Long It Took Me To Read: 3 days

Plot Summary: ‘You can’t get around Kate Battista as easily as all that’ 

Kate Battista is feeling 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 the adults 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… 

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 win her round?

Anne Tyler’s retelling of The Taming of the Shrew asks whether a thoroughly modern, independent woman like Kate would ever sacrifice herself for a man. The answer is as individual, off-beat and funny as Kate herself. 

General Thoughts: I am not what you'd call a Shakespeare aficionado. I've properly read and studied Macbeth, Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream. And Macbeth is pretty much my favourite Shakespeare play ever. 

I have read most of his comedies, since they were there in my course book and I wanted to read his comedies and of course Romeo and Juliet, because which 13 year old girl doesn't want to read Romeo and Juliet! :) 

But TBH, I haven't read any Shakespeare since I was 13 years old. I haven't quite had the inclination. 

But I've always enjoyed adaptations of his work. Whether it is Vishal Bharadwaj's fantastic and earthy re-telling of Shakespeare. Maqbool was fantastic and Omkara was brilliant too. 

I have read Taming of the Shrew and vaguely remember the main plot points. But while talking about this play is would be unthinkable to not mention the best (in my humble opinion) Shakespeare adaptation ever, 10 Things I Hate About You! This movie is golden. If you've seen it you know what I mean. If you haven't..God what have you been waiting for?! Watch it now! 

Things I Liked: 

1. I've read one other book by Anne Tyler before and loved it A Spool of Blue Thread. And I've meant to read more from her and when this book caught my eye I had to give it a read. I really enjoyed her writing and the easy story telling. 

2. Not to judge a book by it's cover, but..but look at this beautiful cover?! It is the most gorgeous cover! I can't lie the cover was the first thing I noticed about this book. And it was in a very small way a cover buy! 

A thing of beauty! 

3. I loved Kate. She reminded me a little me. I really empathised with her and honestly she didn't feel like a shrew at all. She was likeable and I felt so bad for her and the way in which she was taken for granted by her family. 

4. Also Pyotr was such a nice character to get to know. He was sweet and funny and kind and I was constantly rooting for Kate and him. 

5. I also immensely enjoyed reading about Kate's work life. Her dealing with the kids of her class was sweet and funny. Also the little troubles she got in because of her storage forward nature and mince no words attitude was funny yet relatable. 

6. I thought Bunny's character was so well crafted, she is very, very unlikable and quite horrid but all of her nastiness and flakiness came across as so genuine. 

7. Kate's father was also a very well crafted character that leapt off the pages. He is an absent minded professor to the max and so spaced out and sometimes oblivious to that is going on around him. 

8. I really liked the progression of Pyotr and Kate's relationship. It was slow and believable and not OTT romantic and mushy. 

9. This book was so subtly humorous and made me laugh out loud in many places. 

10. I think it's important to have a book like, an adaptation like this that talks from the Shrew's perspective. Seeing an otherwise unlikable and sometimes very one dimensional character. To humanise a character beyond seeing her as a difficult and mean exterior. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

I felt the ending was a bit rushed and we didn't get to fully see Kate and Pyotr coming together and seeing them making a success of their forced/compromise of a marriage. 

Rating: 4/5 

I can't wait to sample more from the Hogarth Shakespeare series. There are some great authors who've done the adaptations. I especially want to read the re-tellings of Macbeth and Hamlet. 

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