Book Review: Up Late with Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl is the latest installment of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, where modern writers rewrite classic stories as if they were taking place today. I recently reviewed Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, which was a fascinating study of what remains the same about human nature. Vinegar Girl is no different.
In this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, Kate, a college dropout, works at a daycare and runs the household for her absent-minded professor/scientist father and looks after her seemingly shallow younger sister Bunny. Once her father decides Kate should marry his lab partner to get him a greencard so they can continue their research, Kate’s life becomes a series of set-up social engagements and bizarre encounters with Pyotr. Although she thinks she might have a future with one of the young men working at the daycare, Kate learns to tolerate and eventually enjoy Pyotr’s company.
At first I found Kate a little offputting at first as a character, she grew on me. I think I struggled with her apathy about her job, her life, her relationships. As the book went on, she seemed to form more solid opinions and stood up to her father. I also found her internal dialogue entertaining: “(The unsatisfying thing about practicing restraint was that nobody knew you were practicing it.)” She also had a number of observations about life that rang true to me: “Funny how you have to picture losing a thing before you think you might value it after all.”
This was a short, quick read. A nice break from the beginning of school work if you want a short, engaging story about relationships, family, and finding yourself. Also, if you’re a fan of Anne Tyler’s other books, I think you’d enjoy this one, too.