1. ‘Vinegar Girl’ by Anne Tyler.

Anne Tyler was one of Mums favourite authors. A strong female voice, beautifully drawn characters, quirky, funny and prolific to boot…always a plus when you find a writer you like! (Any mention of another of our favourites, Donna Tartt, always caused us to bemoan the fact we had to wait years between each of her total of just three splendid novels to date, but thats another story.)

This is The Taming of the Shrew, re-imagined and re-written as part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the bard. Set firmly in the 21st century, Kate finds herself, somewhat to her surprise, looking after her eccentric (mad scientist) father and her younger sister, while working in childcare where her tendency to speak her mind, (or not – “I had nothing to say, so I said nothing”), emphasises her individuality, strength and feelings of being an outsider, different from the norm. When her fathers lab assistant, Pyotr, is threatened with deportation, her father hatches a plot to marry him to Kate in order to keep him in America and complete his research.

Mum was a strong, independently minded and extremely intelligent woman herself, like Kate, and she’d definitely have told Kate to stand up for herself, and supported her all the way in her desire for individuality and independence.

It may have been difficult to overcome the male supremacy of the original tale, but Ms Tyler does it effortlessly, making Kate’s awkwardness (shrewishness) genuinely endearing. Will she, a thoroughly modern woman, be able to resist the pressure to be sacrificed for her fathers career? Every character is perfectly formed and believable, especially Kate’s scant family who are brilliantly drawn. I particularly enjoyed the wedding planning scenes, the delight of her Aunt Thelma at having a wedding to plan meeting the resistance of Kate to any fussiness.

I don’t want to give away the ending, although if you’re familiar with Shakespeare, you’ll know where this should go. Ms Tyler does it with such style though, making this a really easy and enjoyable read.  Love, love, love it, and I’m giving it 8/10!