Published by Hogarth on June 21, 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance
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Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.
Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.
When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?
A woman learns about life and love in this retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Let’s review!
The title really sets the tone for the novel – Vinegar Girl. The main character, Kate, is truly a sourpuss unhappy with her life. Trust me, you will learn EVERY. SINGLE. THING. she dislikes about her current circumstances. While I don’t necessarily mind characters unhappy with their lot, I found a lot to dislike about Kate. She bemoans having a full-time job. She grumbles at her sister and aunt for showing their love and concern. She blames everyone for her current position, and never takes the time to put the blame where it belongs – on herself.
Her father decides to marry her to his young lab assistant, Pyotr, when the assistant’s green card expires. View Spoiler »While Kate is rightfully angry and hurt when she discovers his plan, she ultimately goes along due to her unhappiness « Hide Spoiler. I didn’t necessarily mind Kate and Pytor as a couple, although this book only explores there growing friendship with light touches of romance. My biggest problem is their characterization. Kate never truly grows as a character. Kate needed to recognize her own culpability in her circumstances instead of the incessant blame game toward her family. Pytor is poorly characterized too. At best, he is a caricature of a stranger in a strange land; at worst, he is a chauvinistic asshole (particularly toward the end of the novel).
Finally, I listened to the audiobook version of this novel. Perhaps some of my dislike comes from listening instead of reading the book. The narrator made Kate sound exactly like Daria. She did a decent reading of the other characters, particularly Pytor. But listening to a thirty-year-old Daria-like character complain in Daria-like fashion for six hours just left a bad taste in my mouth.
tl;dr A retelling of a classic that falls flat for me. Skip this poor excuse for a novel and watch 10 Things I Hate About You instead.