This book is part of a series of reinterpretations of Shakespeare’s plays published by Hogarth. “Vinegar Girl” is the modern retelling of “The Taming of the Shrew” (1590), in which Kate Battista, a motherless twenty-nine year old, takes care of her scientist father and absent-minded sister. Initially, Kate resists the pursuit of her father’s Russian lab assistant, Pyotr, but when both Kate’s father and Pyotr plot to make the romance a reality, Kate eventually gives in, falling in love with Pyotr.
Sentences Worth Studying
- about Adam, Kate’s crush: “Now he happily tended two-year olds, wiping noses and soothing random cases of homesickness, and before Quiet Rest Time every day his mumbly, slightly furry voice could be heard singing lullabies above the soporific strumming of his guitar” (36).
- “You could really feel physically wounded if someone hurt your feelings badly enough. Over the next few days, she discovered that. She had discovered it several times before, but this felt like a brand-new revelation, as sharp as a knife to her chest. Illogical, of course: why her chest? Hearts were just glorified pumps, after all. Still her own heart felt bruised, simultaneously shrunken and swollen, and if that sounded self-contradictory, well, so be it” (71).
- “Walking home at the end of the day, she reviewed her conversation with Adam. ‘Ooh!’ she had said, not once but twice, in that artificial, girlie way she detested, and her voice had come out higher-pitched than usual and her sentences had slanted upward at the end. Stupid, stupid, stupid” (78).
- about Pyotr: “There was a certain liberation in talking to a man who didn’t have a full grasp of English. She could tell him anything and half of it would fly right past him, especially if the words came tumbling out fast enough” (96).
- about Kate’s father: “Now that the weather was warmer, he had abandoned the waffle-knit long-sleeved undershirts he wore all winter. His coverall sleeves were rolled up to expose his bare forearms, which were thin and black-haired and oddly frail. Kate felt an unexpected jolt of pity for him, over and above her exasperation. He was so inept-looking, so completely ill-equipped for the world around him” (104).
- “Immigration was the family’s new bugaboo. Kate envisioned Immigration as a ‘he’—one man, wearing a suit and tie, handsome in the neutral, textureless style of a detective in an old black-and-white movie. He might even have that black-and-white movie voice, projected-sounding and masterful” (116).
- “She had always been such a handful—a thorny child, a sullen teenager, a failure as a college student. What was to be done with her? But now they had the answer: marry her off. They would never have to give her another moment’s thought” (159).
- “They smushed a layer of pale pink blossoms carpeting the sidewalk. They climbed the three brick steps and came to a stop on the stoop. Pyotr slapped his front pockets. Then he slapped his rear pockets. Then he said ‘Hell damn,’ and put his finger on the doorbell and held it there” (197).
- Kate’s speech about her sister Bunny’s future husband: “I pity him, whoever he is. It’s hard being a man. Have you ever thought about that? Anything that’s bothering them, men think they have to hide it. They think they should seem in charge, in control; they don’t dare show their true feelings. No matter if they’re hurting or desperate or stricken with grief, if they’re heartsick or they’re homesick or some huge dark guilt is hanging over them or if they’re about to fail, big-time at something—‘Oh, I’m okay,’ they say. ‘Everything is just fine.’ They’re a whole lot less free than the women are when you think about it” (231).