This review is written with thanks to Vintage Books and Netgalley for my copy of Vinegar Girl.
Katherine Battista is 29 years old, and lives with her father, who is a scientist, and her younger sister, Bunny. Her mother died when she was very young, and as a result, her father is very protective of both his daughters. Katherine has a very sarcastic, guarded personality, which has made it difficult for her to get along with others, particularly potential boyfriends. One day, her father returns from his laboratory announcing that his highly-qualified assistant, Pyotr is due to be deported. He is desperate not to lose Pyotr and suggests to Katherine that she marries Pyotr, so that he has the right to remain in America. Will they go ahead with the wedding?
Vinegar Girl is written as part of Hogarth Press’ “Shakespeare Retold” series, and is an updated version of The Taming Of The Shrew. As Katherine is the same age as me, and has a similar sarcastic sense of humour, I found it very easy to relate to her as the central character, and was impressed by the way that Tyler has made Shakespeare’s traditional characters relevant to a modern audience. Tyler has also retained some of Shakespeare’s most dominant themes, such as sibling rivalry and love, whilst also raising issues which are prevalent in current affairs, such as immigration. (It feels particularly pertinent to be writing about Vinegar Girl the day after the EU Referendum!) These are themes which are of interest to the modern reader, and I found that they worked well together to create an engaging novel.
Although I have not seen or read the original version of The Taming of the Shrew, I am familiar with the plot, thanks mostly to my obsessive viewing of 10 Things I Hate About You as a teenager. This meant that whilst I found Vinegar Girl easy to read and enjoyed the development of the plot and characters, I felt that the ending was slightly predictable. Whilst this is through no fault of the author, my prior expectations for the conclusion of the novel meant that I was not as gripped, particularly towards the end, as I might have been had I not been aware of the likely outcome.
Overall, I enjoyed Vinegar Girl and believe that Tyler should be commended for the seamless manner in which she has translated such a well known story to a present day environment.
Vinegar Girl is available from Amazon.