Thursday, September 22, 2016

Vinegar girl, by Anne Tyler

The Bard moves to Baltimore.  In a retelling of The taming of the shrew, Tyler has produced a mash-up of this well-known and frequently retold (see Kiss me, Kate) play, and the 1990 Gérard Depardieu movie, Green Card.  Because it’s written by Anne Tyler, the book is funny and touching.  Kate, a plain-spoken young woman, has largely given up her own life and any ambitions she may have had to work as a teacher’s assistant in a preschool while keeping house for her absent-minded scientist father, Dr. Battista, a researcher at Johns Hopkins, and supervising teen-aged younger sister, the beautiful airhead, Bunny.  Her father is sure he is on the brink of a major breakthrough, but his work depends heavily on his research assistant, Pyotr, brought to the US by Dr. Battista on an H-1B visa.  The hitch?  Well, the visa is only good for three years, which are about over.  His solution to the dilemma, marry off Kate to Pyotr.  We know how it comes out, but it’s enjoyable getting there.  On the whole, however, I preferred Curtis Sittenfeld’s recent take on Pride and Prejudice.  237 pp.

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