To think I’d never read an Anne Tyler novel until now.
What an omission.
We chose “Vinegar Girl” to read in our Delhi book club this month, and what a nice read it is, too.
Hmm…”nice”. Not a very literary word, agreed.
What a fun book. Is that a little better?
“Vinegar Girl” is a contemporary re-working of “The Taming of the Shrew” with the main character called – yes, indeed – Kate.
To spare you from a listing here of all the clever word-play & references to Shakespeare, just let me tell you that the 21st century Baltimore names are affectionate nods in the direction of their historical counterparts.
It is a long time since a novel has made me laugh out loud, and that’s always such a lovely feeling, and “Vinegar Girl” is, indeed, a fun, clever, witty read.
Kate is prickly, a bit galumphing, and resigned to her uneventful life as a teaching assistant in a pre-school. She has her moments though – I love the scene where she tells a class of four year olds that pasta smells like wet dog:
I won’t plot-spoil, but Pyotr Shcherbakov is a cracker of a character from the second we meet him :
Pyotr’s language, both his use thereof and his pronunciation, is a delightful leit motiv running through the book:
He constantly quotes proverbs from his country, much to Kate’s exasperation:
Pyotr absorbs language greedily, especially idioms, and in one scene when everyone else eats burgers, he orders a complicated chichi meal :
A clever, fun read.
If I have one reservation, it is the Epilogue. A wee bit too twee. But that really is a small reservation
Do yourself a favour and read “Vinegar Girl” – and if you want to order it right now, couldn’t be easier – just click on the link below: