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.

Hark! Who goes there? Why it’s William Shakespeare, again!

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog?

About a month ago, I posted an update and wrote about William Shakespeare. I was inspired by a couple of social media posts which became popular when stay at home orders were starting to take affect throughout the country with the Coronavirus outbreak. This past week, I saw mention of his April 23rd birthday and decided to take another look at this well-known literary playwright.

William Shakespeare celebrated his 456th birthday and the 404th anniversary of his death last week. The experts aren’t sure of the exact date of his birth, but they do know he was baptized on April 26th.

His birthday tends to fall on St. George’s Day, England’s National Day. Who was St. George? He’s the patron saint of England and parts of Portugal and Spain, a Christian martyr, and celebrated as the ideal for martial valor and selflessness. Legend has it that he was a soldier in the Roman Army who slayed a dragon and saved a princess. Most of the time, St. George’s Day is celebrated on Shakespeare’s actual birthday. However, if it falls during the week of Easter, then it’s observed the weekday following the celebration of Easter. Due to the Coronavirus, the British were asked to fly the flag from their homes instead of going out and celebrating this year.

A couple of additional facts about him,

-According to shakespeare.org.uk (a website dedicated to a charity which cares for the Shakespeare sites and offers tours and information about Shakespeare and his family), Shakespeare was born to John and Mary Shakespeare. He was the third of eight children and the oldest surviving son. His two older sisters, Joan and Margaret both died before reaching the age of two and of his younger siblings, Gilbert, Joan (named after her older sister), Anne, Richard and Edmund. His younger sister Joan was the only one of his siblings to outlive him.

-Upon his father’s death in 1601, he inherited the house which became an inn called Maidenhead and later on the Swan and Maidenhead. It remained an inn until 1847 when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it and to restore and care for the family history.

-When it comes to him being an actor and a playwright, an interesting thing about the Globe theater, where Shakespeare was an actor and shareholder, it accommodated people from all walks of life, so anyone could see a play. Just like going to an event at a theater or stadium now, what you can afford, will determine where you can sit. At the Globe, the cheap seats were on the ground floor and were open to all of the weather elements. The more expensive seats were in the higher levels complete with comfy seats which were out of the weather. A reversal of how a concert or sporting event is set up now. With the more expensive seats found on the lower levels and the least expensive seating found in upper level “nose bleed section”.


Shakespeare’s writing is complex and sometimes hard to understand. What are your thoughts?

In response to my blog post from March 24th, Authorbookings.com (a part of Story Monsters LLC) reached out and referred me to another Shakespeare resource. When I checked out the website, getshakespeare.com (which will take you to the Story Monsters LLC website), I learned about Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection. Cass Foster makes works of Shakespeare accessible for all ages. These versions are not adaptations, but timeless tales that may help make my understanding Shakespeare a lot easier. They are available through the Story Monsters LLC store and are suitable for students in sixth grade and up. I ordered one of the Shakespeare’s plays I haven’t read before, Taming of the Shrew, which was written originally written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592, we’ll see how it reads.

As a side note, Authorbookings.com has a great program for book awards and outreach to the schools and media to get in touch with authors, artists, publishers and speakers for school and library visits. My first novel, The Hard Way, is a 2018 honorable mention Dragonfly Book Award winner, through Story Monsters LLC.

As I was reading the reviews for Sixty-Minute Shakespeare, I saw one which was posted by the Woodland Shakespeare Club, now the oldest women’s clubs in California founded in 1886 with the goal to “study, with intellectual and spiritual growth as goals”. It is a literary, multi-generational group, limited to 50 members, that started out just discussing works of Shakespeare, but in 1878, the women started reading works by various authors when they called upon each other at their homes for the meeting. Kind of like the book clubs of today.

According to the article published in the community section of the October 27, 2019 edition of the Davis Enterprise, Woodland Shakespeare Club: Your cup of tea? the California based group reads and discusses books with topics of California to Southern Women Writers to music themed books. The typical meeting is a discussion of a previously chosen book and ending with a cup of tea. Their reading season runs from October to April, with April being the month they celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a luncheon and a special cake. Their theme changes from season to season with their recently completed season, 2019-2020, theme being “In Other Words: Shakespeare’s plays reinterpreted, retold and reimagined.” Members read current novels which are similar in type to one of Shakespeare’s plays.

I contacted the president of the group, Anne Hawke, and asked if they have a website. She replied, no it is too expensive for the group. If you Google, Woodland Shakespeare Club, like I did, you’ll find some interesting articles about the group. The group has 50 active members and they aren’t seeking new members. Any potential member must be referred by a current member of the group. When I asked what a favorite read for the group was, she said they enjoyed these Shakespeare plays reinterpreted. The Anne Tyler book, Vinegar Girl, is the Taming of the Shrew retold was one of her personal favorites. Looks like I found my next book to read and review along with the Sixty-Minute Shakespeare version of the story.

Funny how all of that information and a couple of future reads fell out of a second look at Shakespeare’s life. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!