This book is from the same series of books as Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed, which I thought was great all around. That book took on the source material and transformed it, and while it did have some over-clever nods to the material, the narrator was aware of the material so it wasn’t schlocky the ways that sometimes these pastiche novels can be.
This novel was, sadly. This is a re-doing of The Taming of the Shrew, which is weird to adapt, since 10 Things I hate about You was already perfect.
This one involved Kate, the daughter of a Johns Hopkins research scientist living in Baltimore, who gets set up with a brilliant young Russian scientist who needs to renew his visa. She is a little wayward, a little sour, but often right, working at a day school. Kate’s sister is Bunny, a ditzy, newly minted Vegan who is becoming more and more frustrated with her sister and her father’s research, which involves mice.
Kate is sour, but Pyotr likes that. Like Kate is direct and no-nonsense and in general, as you would imagine despite the circumstances, a good match.
This just isn’t a very strong novel. I get that Anne Tyler is doing a thing, and that thing has limits, but she did not deliver the goods the way Margaret Atwood did. Atwood’s novel is inspired, and this one is just not.
I am interested in a minor way with Tracy Chevalier’s upcoming Othello remix, but definitely in Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar (King Lear), Jo Nesbo’s MacBeth, and Gillian Flynn’s Hamlet.