Book Review Summer 2016
Last summer, I did a book review summer. The rationale was that summer is a time for fun and/or relaxation, plus it goes hand-in-hand with summer reading programs nationwide. While many of those programs are for children, quite a few libraries also run concurrent programs for adults. I thought Book Review Summer would be great to continue, and this year I am. Like last year, reviews will cover both recent and upcoming titles along with worthy older titles. The first review for this year is a summer read which soon may be on bestseller lists nationwide.
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
Hogarth, 2016. Hardcover, 240 pages.
Part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, Vinegar Girl is a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. This series is focusing on taking Shakespeare’s plays and retelling them using the modern era.
In Vinegar Girl, Kate Battista is 29 and still living at home. She manages the household for her eccentric scientist father, who is often working in his lab non-stop. It also means that she practically raised her much younger sister, Bunny, and was the primary person dealing with Bunny’s attitude problems. And Kate does all of this while working at a local preschool, where she herself is frequently in trouble.
The crux of the story focuses on Pytor Cherbakov’s courtship of Kate. Pytor is Kate’s father’s lab assistant and the pair is on the verge of a major scientific breakthrough on autoimmune disease, but Pytor’s visa is set to expire. He needs to marry in order to stay in the United States, so Dr. Battista does everything possible to set Pytor up with Kate, seeing this as the perfect answer for many of his family’s problems. Kate does her best to resist. Will the doctor’s plans come to fruition?
In all, this was not my most favorite read. While I understand all the parts about having a scientist for a father (mine was a high school chemistry and physics teacher), most of the dialogue was too “new young thing” for my taste–think Gossip Girls not NCIS. And that is mostly due to Kate’s younger sister and Kate’s early attitude in the novel. I also thought Kate was a pushover. That may or may not have been the case in the original Shakespeare play, but I have not read that particular one to know. Either way, it was clear that Kate needed a change to shake up her stalemated life.
Have you read any other of the Hogarth Shakespeare books? If so, what did you think? Have you read another retelling of Shakespeare’s works? If so, please mention the title and corresponding play plus your thoughts in the comments.
This review was based on an advanced reader copy provided by the publisher. Vinegar Girl will be released on June 21, 2016.