A few weeks ago I saw comedian Sara Pascoe talking at the Hay Festival and I’ve just finished listening to her reading the audiobook of her book ‘Animal’. It’s a really interesting look at the history of the female body and sexuality and how these have been influenced by culture and evolution.
It’s one of those books which I wish I could feed into my daughter’s brain by osmosis. Pascoe’s thoughts on consent, body image (particularly cosmetic surgery) and a female’s ownership of her own body are the sort of important ideas which should be disseminated to help spread equality among the genders and to aid young people in understanding their bodies and desires.
I can only hope that I am open and articulate enough to protect my daughter and help her to build a positive body image and have confidence in her ability use her body as she wishes and not be unduly influenced by patriarchy or the surfeit of sexualised images of women in the media.
It’s a really thought-provoking read, which made me reconsider things about which I had previously felt complacent or been ignorant. Pascoe also reveals very intimate details about her personal life, such as discussing self-harm, abortion, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, which helps lend weight to her thoughts.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is: Top ten books I enjoyed that have under 2000 ratings on Goodreads. It’s hard to find books with that few ratings, but here’s my list:
- Nobody Told Me by Hollie McNish (here’s my review)
- The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell
- July by Karen Roberts
- Leading the Cheers by Justin Cartwright
- The Flower Boy by Karen Roberts
- A Light-hearted Look at Murder by Mark Watson
- Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn
- The Knot by Mark Watson
- Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall
- This Other Eden by Ben Elton
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for the ARC of this book.
‘Vinegar Girl’ is Anne Tyler’s modern retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. I was really excited to read this book as Anne Tyler is one of my favourite authors and ’10 Things I Hate About You’ (another retelling of the play) is one of my favourite films. It also has elements of the film ‘Greencard’ which I also love.
However, I found the book somewhat underwhelming. I think it’s probably because Tyler has a near impossible job. Shakespeare’s source material is so flawed from a modern feminist perspective that it would be wrong to fully reproduce a story where a woman is ‘tamed’ aka ‘abused into submission’ by her husband. Therefore, Tyler backs down from the harshest elements of the story and the result is a bit fluffy and more chick-lit than I would expect from Anne Tyler. The book doesn’t have the depth of character which Tyler usually masters.
It feels a bit light-weight. The story follows Kate (the shrew) who is asked by her father to marry his foreign lab assistant whose visa is running out. She’s not really that shrew-like as she goes along with this plan fairly easily and it all works out happily in the end. The book doesn’t really include much of the other storyline of the play where suitors vye for Kate’s sister’s attention, retaining only the dubious tutor. As a result it’s probably a little short on plot.
However, it is an easy, quick, inoffensive read which may be a good introduction to Shakespeare for younger readers who are not confident enough to tackle the source material directly.