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Review: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl by Anne Taylor

Vinegar Girl, a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, is a tale of interesting family dynamics which centers around Kate’s perspective on her quirky, awkward, and demanding family. Having to handle the domestics of the house after her mother’s death, Kate feels lost in her life, wondering if the life she has taking care of her work driven scientist father and her self-absorbed sister is her fate. Approaching the deadline of her father’s lab assistant’s visa expiration, her father comes to her with a plan that will be the most demanding yet. This innovative retelling of Shakespeare’s tale focuses on Kate’s thoughts as she reconciles her current unhappiness with her life with the uncertain promise of a future.

I have never enjoyed The Taming of the Shrew, there was always just something that rubbed me the wrong way. That being said, I was eager to pick this book because I love reading rewritings, especially of Shakespeare. Vinegar Girl challenged my previous feelings about the timeless play. I found I identified more with Kate than I thought I would; being able to understand her feelings of unhappiness and wonder about where her life would take her. The relationship between Pyotr is framed through an intercultural lens which sheds light on a unique aspect of the retelling. The novel showcases complicated, to say the least, relationships in a family with a mess of problems and inability to understand each other.

My complex feelings after reading the book stems not from the writing, but the original play. As a whole this book is an innovative rewriting that locates the unusual and awkward situation in today’s society. The focus on Kate allowed the reader to hear her innermost thoughts and the epilogue was my favorite part of the novel. If you know the play, you can probably guess the ending, but even still the novel, like any good retelling, keeps certain elements and challenges others. Here’s a link where you can find it!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Book cover from NetGalley.

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