The hilarious new novel from the bestselling author of A Spool of Blue Thread
'A thoroughly modern love story' Guardian, Books of the Year
Kate Battista is stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and infuriating younger sister Bunny?
Dr Battista has other problems. His brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, his new scientific breakthrough will fall through…
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. Will Kate be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to win her round?
Anne Tyler’s brilliant retelling of The Taming of the Shrew asks whether a thoroughly modern woman like Kate would ever sacrifice herself for a man. The answer is as surprising as Kate herself.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We loved Anne Tyler’s wickedly funny, poignant adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Released to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, Tyler's wry, whip-smart novel makes an incredibly worthy addition to the canon of retellings (and gains bonus marks for prompting us to revisit 10 Things I Hate About You). Our heroine is Kate Battista—a warm, sharp and very single 29-year-old facing an unlikely marriage proposal via her (desperate) father. Tyler expertly uses centuries-old inspiration to explore very modern feminist issues.
In the latest of Hogarth's Shakespeare series, Pulitzer-winner Tyler transposes the famously shrewish Kate and her would-be master Petruchio to Tyler country Baltimore's genteel Roland Park neighborhood. There, preschool assistant Kate Battista takes care of her widowed father and much younger, conventionally prettier sister, both of whom take her for granted that is, until her scientist father decides that the way to keep Pyotr, his research assistant, from losing his visa is for Kate to marry him. Considering Dr. Battista's maladroit personality and Pyotr's blunt and sometimes overly literal approach, Kate, who is less shrewish than plainspoken, actually seems quite patient. Though farcical in parts, Shakespeare's play has a dark strand Petruchio is borderline abusive, and critics are divided about whether Kate's speech calling for women to obey their husbands is meant to be sincere, ironic, or perhaps a sign of love. In Tyler's version, Kate's speech is supportive of Pyotr, and defensible. Which makes sense, since Kate and Pyotr, despite their untoward and hasty courtship, clearly like and appreciate each other. Ultimately, the tale succeeds as the kind of love story in which the most surprised people are the protagonists which, arguably, could be said of the original as well but Shakespeare's powerful emotions are absent here. It is not the shrew who is tamed, but the tale itself.