Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Book Review: Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl

Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Date of Publication: June 21, 2016
Pages: 240

     Any new work by Anne Tyler is a cause for celebration.  The appearance of Vinegar Girl is especially sweet since her last novel, A Spool of Blue Thread  was supposed to be her last.  This effort is a part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series which features Shakespeare's works reinterpreted by today's best-selling and acclaimed novelists.  Vinegar Girl is this author's reworking of the classic comedy The Taming of the Shrew.

     The main character is Kate Battista, a millenial who is a square peg constantly finding herself tryng to fit into a round hole.  She lives at home with her widowed father who is a medical research scientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School.  She works as a teaching assistant in a pre-kindergarten class even though she has little patience for children.  Kate's younger sister Bunny is the exact opposite of Kate.  Bunny is a attractive, socially adept and fun-loving and finds herself in chronic conflict with Kate.   Dr. Battista introduces a wild card into this strange milieu.  He brings home his highly regarded graduate assistant who is in America on an expiring visa and suggests that he and Kate marry so that his research can continue.

     Anne Tyler spins this story to a very satisfying and humorous conclusion as only she could.  The characters, like characters in all of her books, seem like old friends or neighbors by the time the story winds up.  This author is also a master at description of settings which adds another dimension to this novel.  Little details set the tone for entire episodes.  The author's familiarity with Baltimore adds to the richness of her descriptions.

     This is a short novel (less than 200 pages) which is the only disappointment here.  I wish it could have gone on for several hundred more!

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