Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Vinegar Girl

Vinegar Girl is the latest offering from one of my favorite authors, Anne Tyler.  Since The Accidental Tourist, Tyler has put out a book nearly annually and each one has been wonderful.  Noah's Compass may be the best, but they are all good.  So, I was excited to read Vinegar Girl.  

It's a very easy read but not really special in the way that Tyler typically is.  Vinegar Girl is about Kate, the sour daughter of a scientist.  She, in her late 20s, takes care of her father and her teenage sister.  The father is nearly helpless without Kate.  And, beyond his lab, sort of helpless in terms of what is appropriate. He thinks nothing of urging Kate to marry an assistant in his lab who is an immigrant so that the assistant may be able to become a citizen and continue working in the lab.  Kate is aghast at the idea, but goes ahead with it anyway.  

It wasn't until I was halfway through the book that I was reminded that the book was billed as the "Taming of the Shrew" retold as Vinegar Girl.  The publisher Hogarth Shakespeare hires well known authors to take Shakespeare's plays and present them as modern novels.

I know I saw "The Taming of the Shrew" at least once but that was many years ago.  And I believe it was one of the plays assigned in high school that I either just skimmed or read the Cliff Notes.  When I finished Vinegar Girl, I read a synopsis of the play and, then, I had a greater appreciation for the novel.  Tyler really does a good job of modernizing the play.  Character names are similar and the novel is, at least superficially, a 21st century updating of Shakespeare's play.

So, for that--a respect for the ability to take something written in the 1500s and translate it to contemporary times--I can recommend the book.  But in and of itself, the novel is Anne Tyler light.  It is an easy read though and if you are just looking to get into a book and finish it quickly, this will do the job.

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