Taming of the Shrew and Anne Tyler what a perfect match, who would not want read her take on Shakespeare’s forthright heroine? Vinegar Girl is just that, Kiss Me Kate without the music and part of a wider project whereby famous modern authors rewrite Shakespeare plays to mark the playwright’s 400th anniversary.
Kate is a nursery school teacher and default carer to her younger sister in the wake of their Mother’s death. Father is a dysfunctional but brilliant scientist. Pytor, his assistant whose visa is about to run out, needs to marry fast or else he will have to go home and the project they are working on will fail. Step forward Kate the reluctant bride. Will she, won’t she?
Clunky is the best word that I have for this marriage of two brilliant writers. A sixteenth century plot coupled with twenty-first century prose just didn’t work for me. Maybe it was because you just wanted to shake Kate, tell her to go to college and escape under her own steam not rely on a man. Maybe it is because I know the plot. Maybe it’s because Anne Tyler is capable of brilliant nuanced plots of her own that I am unused to reading her constrained by somebody else’s imagination. I wanted to really, really like Vinegar Girl, maybe that was the problem. The pages turned easily enough and the ending was satisfying but I didn’t love it. Not a bad book, just not the great one that I had expected it to be.
If you love Anne Tyler and like Shakespeare then give Vinegar Girl a whirl, let me know what you think. Other authors have joined in with this Shakespeare mash up, Jeanette Winterson has produced Gap of Time (A Winter’s Tale) and Howard Jacobson has written Shylock is my Name (The Merchant of Venice) and more are to follow. I confess that I may give the others a miss.
DISCLAIMER: I was sent a copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
VINEGAR GIRL by Anne Tyler
Published by Hogarth
Hardback £16.99, Kindle £9.99