Author: Anne Tyler
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: Basically a less well-modernized, less entertaining version of 10 Things I Hate About You.
Vinegar Girl is the latest installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series of retellings. I loved the Merchant of Venice retelling, Shylock is My Name, so I had high hopes for this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. I remembered liking the series when I was younger, although a recent post by Krysta at Pages Unbound about the misogyny in the original made me realize that the domestic abuse went right over my head at the time. This book generally eliminated that problem, but the conclusion was still a little off for me.
The author did do a good job of keeping the essential nature of the characters and modernizing them. However, she lost some critical elements of the original story, including changing the motivation of Kate’s love interest. I thought that was an important element of the original and I missed it here. Obviously other elements, like the domestic abuse, I didn’t miss. Kate’s husband behaves a bit insanely at her wedding, as in the original, but has a much better reason for it. The ending is similar, with Kate defending her husband’s behavior, but her epiphany didn’t ring true to me. I’m not sure I agree with what she was saying, but more importantly, I didn’t believe it was something her character would say. It was completely unconvincing.
The bottom line with this one is that, for me, it pales in comparison to 10 Things I Hate About You. I adore that movie, so this book had a pretty high bar to live up to. As is, I found it a little weird. Compared to 10 Things I Hate About You, the updates to this book felt much clumsier to me. Important plot points were lost. And even though the characters’ personalities were great, their behavior often didn’t make sense in the modern context. I’m still excited to read more in this series (an update of Macbeth written by Margaret Atwood, anyone?), but if your tastes match mine, I’d recommend giving this one a pass.
That said, the publisher was kind enough to send me a book for a giveaway and I know we all have different tastes, so I’m still excited to have a copy to offer. The author, Anne Tyler, is a Pulitzer Prizewinner and you can check out goodreads to hear from the many readers who liked this better than I did. If you’re excited about this or just want to find out how it is for yourself, be sure to enter the giveaway below.