Book Review: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Let me preface this with saying I knew nothing about The Taming of the Shrew. Except I did but didn’t realize it. See, I thought 10 Things I Hate About You was based on Much Ado About Nothing because an English teacher at my high school had told met that it was (the educational system has failed me once again. I won’t tell you about the arguments I got in with my other English teacher who didn’t even know who Odin was in Beowulf). Maybe he just said the wrong title or hadn’t actually seen 10 Things. Whatever the case, I was left scratching my head.

All the time when reading this book I was thinking This seems a lot like 10 Things. But maybe the plays are just really similar. IDK!  Because I really don’t know anything about them (I’m more of a Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello thespian. Merchant of Venice is good too.)

But, long story short, I had tried to surprise myself by picking out this book and was sadly let down–I knew the Shakespearean formula!

This book is apparently part of a commissioned series from some place called the “Hogarth Shakespeare project” that wants Old Bill’s works “retold by acclaimed and bestselling novelists of today.” I didn’t realize that going in, and it kind of explains its contrived feeling. Very forced.

Just like I haven’t read The Taming of The Shrew, I haven’t read anything by Anne Tyler. At first the book was a bit whimsical…like watching a Studio Ghibli film. Or a French film like Amelie.

But then it turns into a riff on animal rights activists. The main character, Kate, has a vegetarian sister that is constantly made fun of. In fact, she is made the fool a couple times (one time being that she doesn’t know the difference between being vegetarian and vegan). This part of the story was just insulting to a lot of vegetarian and vegans. So, trigger warning. Also, the twist at the end involves her being blamed for releasing her father’s lab mice. PETA is unnecessarily mentioned.

There was really  just too much talk of food. Cooking and talking about fast food and grocery lists are like…half the book. I don’t know if food is a major theme in the play, but… This got ridiculous and uninteresting.

I was also a bit concerned with the premise. At one point Kate thinks “it was a pity [her father] couldn’t just marry Pyotr himself” in the arranged-marriage scheme the book centers around. NEWS FLAAASH. He could. This is 2016. Gay marriage. Gay rights. Gay stories.

The story was just a bit too limited in scope to feel clever for me. But the cover is absolutely amazing:

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.




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