“Vinegar Girl” by Anne Tyler

If I wasn’t such a huge fan of the author I would never have found Hogarth Shakespeare. Hogarth Press was founded in 1917 by Virginia and Leonard Woolf. Last year they launched the Hogarth Shakespeare project where much admired novelists are retelling the Bard’s stories in contemporary times. “Vinegar Girl” is a modern version of “Taming of the Shrew.” Only an author as talented as Tyler would tackle such a daunting task. The thought of updating anything Shakespearean must be frightening enough and then with this particular fable there is the added tricky component that in 2016 no woman wants to be thought of as tamed by a man. The premise is basically the same. Kate’s father, a scientist in this story, wants to marry his eldest daughter off but in this version so he can keep his research assistant who’s visa is about to expire. I believe that Shakespeare’s play was meant to be a madcap comedy while Tyler’s comedy is subdued yet just as hilarious. Tyler’s Kate was more quirky while the original Kate was more vicious. Her Petruchio is a watered down brute, an orphan who grew into a vulnerable man. Both updated characters felt inferior amongst their peers and were lonely neither ever expected to find love. I believe these changes are how the author dealt with the modernization of Kate without offending today’s woman. I felt Tyler did an excellent job proving that sometimes you can catch more flies with vinegar than honey. “Vinegar Girl” will be on sale to the public on June 21, 2016.


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