Tag Archives: Anne Tyler

Review of ‘Vinegar Girl’ by Anne Tyler

cover90226-medium.pngThanks 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.

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Review of ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ by Anne Tyler

A spool of blue threadAnne Tyler is one of my very favourite authors. She is fabulous at creating narratives about the intricacies of family dynamics, including oddball characters and the complicated ways in which people love each other. So I was eagerly anticipating the paperback release of her latest novel, which at the time I believed was to be her last, although happily it is not.

I often find with Tyler’s novels that I really enjoy reading the book but I’m left disappointed by the ending. This was the case with this book. The novel paints a portrait of the Whitshank family over four generations and the house in which they live. I really liked reading about the modern day family, but I was less interested in the older generation which is the focus of the last third of the book so I found my enjoyment drifted towards the end.

Rather than having a driving narrative plot, it is more a series of vignettes about important moments in the family’s life. I would have preferred if the book had just stayed in the present day and delved more into the motivations and peculiarities of the family members the book portrayed at its beginning, with whom I felt very engaged. However, I cannot deny the quality of Tyler’s writing and her ability to create real multi-layered characters and amusing, touching family situations.