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Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Thursday, October 12, 2017

This is the edition I read.

Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!  Recently I read Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler.  If you follow my blog, you've probably noticed it on my sidebar because I've been "currently reading" it for a long time.  I just kept getting distracted by other books.  But if I'm honest,  I admit that I was worried I might be disappointed in this book.

Let me explain why...

Vinegar Girl is part of a project by Hogarth Shakespeare.  The publisher has asked several top authors to reimagine Shakespeare's plays.

This book is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, one of my favorites.  That's why I was scared I would be disappointed.  Not only was I NOT disappointed...I was extremely pleased. I was mesmerized.  I was engrossed.  Once I read the first couple of chapters, I found it hard to put down.

It was silly of my to doubt Anne Tyler.  I mean, she's Ann Tyler.  She's a rockstar because not only did she meet this challenge, she conquered it.

According to Goodreads:

‘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. Its answer is as individual, off-beat and funny as Kate herself.

My Review:

If I had to pick just one adjective to describe the characters in Vinegar Girl it would definitely be quirky.  I found each and every character to be so interesting, even Kate's vapid younger sister Bunny.  Dr. Battista has a scientific process for everything, even the family's dinner: Kate cooks a "meat mash" casserole that lasts the family the entire week.  Pyotr is very endearing and likable.  I love his unflappable determination to win Kate over, and their dialogue (even their text messages) are very entertaining.

Expelled from university at 18 because she deigned to criticize a poorly-executed lecture on photosynthesis, Kate has been working as a "junior teacher" in a preschool located near Johns-Hopkins.  The parents are overbearing, and Kate's blunt rejoinders to these parents are hilarious.  I do love her!  But what's worrisome is she's obviously wicked smart and stuck in a job where one must wait for a "senior teacher" to die before there's hope for advancement. It's also worrisome how dependent Dr. Battista has become dependent on Kate for everything, including doing his taxes.  One would think that a parent with a PhD would care very much whether or not his progeny are educated. But he is so engrossed in the impending breakthrough in his autoimmune study that he doesn't think about anything else.

And that's where Pyotr comes into play.  Dr. Battista believes that he cannot complete his study without him, and his Visa is almost up.  Now all of a sudden Dr. Battista is giving Kate lots of attention because he needs her to marry Pyotr in order for him to get a green card....and Kate's not having it!

If you love Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, quirky characters, witty dialogue, and family drama, then you will absolutely love this version of the story. This book will definitely make my short list (of three) best books of 2017 (although it was released last books I've read in 2017). I've read many fantastic books this year.  Vinegar Girl is just that good.  Plus it's a very short, quick read.

This is the paperback edition of the book, and I think it's pretty, too.

I plan on reading all the Hogarth Shakespeare editions.  Click on this LINK and see all the available versions and those that are to come.

I plan on reading this retelling of Othello next.

Have you read any of the Hogarth Shakespeare selections?

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Well, this sounds good. I love "Shrew" but hadn't heard of this series. I need to look into this (like I need another set of books to look into...) but Wow! I think I'd love this one.

  2. I've not read these but now I plan to!
    your review has me sold!
    thanks Ricki Jill:)

  3. Sounds great! I will have to brush up on my Shakespeare, first...


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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