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Vinegar Girl: 06/06/17

Vinegar Girl  by Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. It is a modern day retelling of "Taming of the Shrew." As it's a reworking of a well-known story, there's no surprise at how things will turn out but it is still fun to see how these versions of the characters get there.

Kate, her sister, and their father live together within walking distance of Harvard. Kate as the oldest sister has taken it upon herself to keep the house running, even as she works at a local daycare. Her high school aged sister is far too interested in boys (especially her Spanish "tutor"), and their dad is too much of an absent minded professor to be useful at anything other than his on-going research.

Kate has her routine. She might not like it. She might not like anything but she knows the routine and it helps her mark the passage of time. Then her father messes everything up by introducing her to Pyotr, her father's Russian research assistant. Apparently the research has taken longer than his visa and the easiest way to keep him stateside is to find him a wife.

I liked the solution to the problem of why does Kate suddenly have to get married when she's not interested in marriage. In the original the reason is idiotic — the older sister has to marry before the younger sister can — even though it is the younger one who has all the suitors. Here with the younger sister still a minor, the duty (harebrained as it is) would fall on Kate.

Pyotr is a weird character — not unlikeable — just weird. I imagined him as a modern day William Murdock, though with a Russian accent. I saw him more as a the way Murdock is portrayed in the television series, rather than the books where he's pissier and less of an odd ball. Pyotr lacks social grace and it's not because he's a foreigner — it's more just something about his own inner workings. He is odd in many of the same ways that Kate is — which of course makes them a perfect couple, if they can get past the rush of the green card marriage.

It's a delightful read and doesn't take more than a couple leisurely afternoons to finish. Probably one long day of reading would be enough.

Five stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Thursday, June 08, 2017 at 09:54:08


I liked this one too. I thought Tyler did a great job of making the marriage seem feasible even in the 21st century!

Comment #2: Friday, June 09, 2017 at 07:41:00


I think she makes the marriage seem more feasible than the source material.

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