Pulitzer Prize winner and American master Anne Tyler brings us an inspired, witty, and irresistible contemporary take on one of Shakespeare's most beloved comedies.
Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister, Bunny? Plus, she's always in trouble at work - her preschool charges adore her, but their parents don't always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.
Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There's only one problem: His brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.
When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he's relying - as usual - on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: This time he's really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men's touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?
©2016 Anne Tyler (P)2016 Random House Audio
"Everyone loves Anne Tyler." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Without Anne Tyler, American fiction would be an immeasurably bleaker place." (Newsday)
"You are involved before you even notice you were paying attention.... Her feel for character is so keen that even hardened metafictionalists [who] would happily fry the whole notion of 'character' for breakfast are reduced to the role of helpless gossips, swapping avid hunches about the possible fates of the characters." (Tom Shone, The New Yorker)
I love well-written books in virtually every genre. Quirky characters delight me, and it breaks my heart when a good plot is badly done.
I bought this audiobook for two reasons; I was curious about what would be done with such a problematical plot in a current setting and I know Anne Tyler as a very good author. I don't usually read Anne Tyler; I have had enough angst and deep sorrow in my own life that I choose to read books that don't put me through it.
If I had had to rate Vinegar Girl in the middle of reading it I would probably have given it 3 stars. There is a lot of family dysfunction and I didn't love the characters. I was pretty uncomfortable; it was not happy reading, but it never reached the point where I thought seriously about not finishing. I am so very glad that I did finish. Anne Tyler really did take The Taming of the Shrew and make it work and beyond that, she made it make sense.
If you know Shakespeare, you know the plot; Tyler certainly deviates from the original; she has to in order for the plot to make any sense in today's world. She does hit the high points of the play but I really had no idea how she would bring it all together at the end, but she does, and it is brilliant. I was completely charmed by her ending.
I want to mention that I also appreciated that she kept the book very tight; it is short as audiobooks go these days, but it was the right length for what she accomplished; there was no filler in it. It is so much harder to skip filler in audiobooks than in print; I have sometimes loved the plot and characters in a book and have just been worn out by all of the extras thrown in. Thank goodness for a disciplined author and for good editors.
Kirsten Potter was brilliant all the way through. I have heard her read before and she is one of the audio narrators who really shines in the profession.
This was a predictable plot moderately interesting. Would have been better as a library loan than a purchase.
What really detracted was the performance. The reader was good and consistent however she sounded like she was speaking down a pipe. Hollow and kind of like speaking in a tile bath. I found the performance annoying.
I know that Anne Tyler has written some good books and was looking forward to this. I disliked the narrator almost immediately and thought it was a shame that she'd ruined a good book, but as I continued to listen, it occurred to me that the writing itself wasn't very good at all. As I paid more attention to the writing itself, it read like a first draft--very mechanical with little attention to detail or to the needs of the plot. Some of the scenes didn't seem to serve much purpose.
I was so annoyed by the performance that I checked to see if Kirsten Potter had done any other performances. I was surprised to find that she narrated Station Eleven, which is one of my recent favorites. This doesn't seem to be the same person. All four vocal characterizations were irritating. The younger sister was especially cliché. Even the sound quality was poor.
If you're a fan of either the author or the narrator, find something else. They've both done better.
Being an ardent fan of both Shakespeare and Anne Tyler, I was thrilled to learn that she was doing an update of Taming of the Shrew. The Taming of the Shrew is a problematic piece and I wonder sometimes how it went over with the Bard's wife. Still, it's an enjoyable comedy and, especially for those who laughed at how Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor enacted their own marital strife onscreen, one that has commanded the attention of audiences. This retelling, the story of a scientist desperate to keep his Russian assistant in the country by marrying him to his difficult eldest daughter, is faithful enough to the basic outline of the story but doesn't try to drag every element into the modern era. I don't know whether it's because the story has been told so often (and I have seen it onscreen and in theaters countless times) but it just seemed kind of flat and predictable.
But that is a kind of pointless criticism some would say. I would just say that more even than that though, I was disappointed at how "nice" Catherine was. She just didn't seem feisty enough from the beginning. The book was enlivened with typical Tyler flourishes of character eccentricities but that doesn't make up for the overall blandness of the novel.
One thing though, the performance of the narrator is outstanding. This enlivened the novel immensely and I look forward to more of her narration.
I am a fan of both The Taming of the Shrew as well as Anne Tyler so I was eager to get a hold of this book. Got through it in less than a day and enjoyed every minute of it. Not overly romantic, but sweet, funny and quirky the way only Anne Tyler can be. Maybe not my favorite Tyler, but worth the read. Why would you want to catch flies in the first place? Good question.
This got great reviews and I love "The Taming of the Shrew," so I thought I'd give the book a try. Despite the slow start, it picked up and went quickly because I couldn't stop reading.
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