Book Review – Two versions of Taming of the Shrew

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog.

Last week I read two versions of Taming of the Shrew. One version was the Sixty-Minute version by Cass Foster that I talked about in my Shakespeare post a couple of weeks ago. And the other one was Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler.

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy written by William Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592. The main story centers around the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina. Katherina’s father, Baptista, will not allow her younger and more desirable sister Bianca, to marry until after Katherina has been married off. Katherina is a very headstrong woman who was seen by the community as not suitable to marry. Petruchio takes on the challenge of “taming” her and converting her into a desirable bride.

Sixty Minute Shakespeare’s version of Taming of the Shrew

As I started reading this version, I was brought back to my days of reading Shakespeare in high school. It took me a little bit to get into it. I have been reading quite a few of novels lately, so when I was reading the story in a play format, I needed to expand my mind to imagining the scene and setting a bit more.

Like I have told my kids about any book they are getting ready to read, check online and see what it is about. It can help you get into the story quicker, especially with Shakespeare. I wish I had that option when I was in high school. Cass did a great job with making it easier to read, but kept the language true to how Shakespeare really wrote it and intended it to be. Knowing what the story was about beforehand allowed me to focus on reading the Shakespeare flair, which is what took time to get through.

The production rights for this version are owned by a company called Dramatic Publishing. So, if you would like to perform this version in public through your school, church group or community theater, check out their website for more information about obtaining the rights for it.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Taylor: The Taming of the Shrew retold

Upon hearing the name of this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but after reading The Taming of the Shrew, the title of this book made a little more sense. I was led this book by Ann Hawke, the president of the Woodland Shakespeare Club, a group I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. She said that this book was one of their groups favorite ones to read the retold version of.

This is the story of Kate Battista, who is portrayed as Katherina in Shakespeare’s original. With her mother’s passing away, Kate has taken on the role of mother instead of daughter. She is a spinster who works as a pre- school assistant and takes care of her father and sister at home. Her father, wanting to keep his research assistant in the country, comes up with a grand plan to have Kate marry him. Kind of like an arranged marriage of sorts. Her younger sister, Bunny, in this case is too young to be married, but Tyler makes her personality a little more outgoing and likeable to set her up as the more desirable sister, like Shakespeare’s character, Bianca.

I enjoyed reading both versions of this story. Reading a Shakespeare play reminded me it isn’t necessarily a easy read, but it is neat to see how he created his plays and characters to put on the show for the crowds of the time. Reading the retold version of Vinegar Girl in a novel form was a little easier. I was abe to see the similarities in the characters between the two. I felt that Tyler did a good job of keeping Shakespeare’s themes in her version even with the moderized setting.

There are other Shakespeare works which have similar themes to other published works. Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince is a retelling of Hamlet while Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is retelling of The Tempest. However, Anne Tyler’s book is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project which is an effort by Hogarth Press to retell works by William Shakespeare in a contemporary context. Please check out their website for more information and the upcoming titles to be retold. Hogarth Press – Shakespeare project. If you decide to read both versions of these stories, I would recommend reading the Shakespeare version first to see what he was trying to portray and then see how the author’s retold version uses his themes in their stories.

If you are looking to get a hold of the Sixty-Minute versions of your favorite Shakespeare play, they are available on Amazon and Story Monsters LLC. Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection

If you want to learn more about the author Anne Tyler, here’s her website Anne Tyler and the link to purchase the book Vinegar Girl.

What was your favorite Shakespeare play? What was your least favorite? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Looking for a teen/young adult coming of age novel? How about taking a look at The Hard Way!

Available on Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com. Or follow the link below to the books tab of my website to get your copy.