For our November book club we read Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, a retelling of Shakespeare’s A Taming of the Shrew. Our book club found the retelling mostly pretty underwhelming, but that never stops us from recommending books! Here are some you can try if you liked and disliked Vinegar Girl and at the end we’ll have some discussion questions if you have your own book club about the novel!
A Spool of Blue Thread was Anne Tyler’s big novel of the last years that also won her the Pulitzer Prize. This novel is one that spans generations of one family based around the emotional complexity of human life.
Of course you should read The Taming of the Shrew on which Vinegar Girl is based, but another book you might want to try is Wise Children by Angela Carter. Although not entirely based on Shakespeare’s work, this book makes many allusions to the play. In a book about twins, doubles and paradoxes, The Lucky Chances, two sisters are the illegitimate and unacknowledged daughters of Sir Melchoir Hazard, the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day.
Another book in the Hogarth Shakespeare series is Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood. Hag-seed is a retelling of The Tempest and combines Atwood’s fantasy with Shakespeare’s wit, which is really the best of both worlds.
- Do you think Kate’s speech at the end of the novel is sincere? If you’ve read The Taming of the Shrew, then compare it to Katherina’s speech.
- Tyler said in an interview that she hates Shakespeare and especially The Taming of the Shrew. Why do you think she’d then choose to adapt this play anyway?
- What Shakespeare play would you like to see adapted and by who?