This is my second book by Anne Tyler. For those who may not know, this book is the retelling of the Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare which I never read and perhaps that’s the reason I was a bit underwhelmed by this book.
This is the story of Kate Battista and her family, her father and a younger sister. We find out that the mother passed away “died” as Kate Battista, the oldest daughter seems to prefer at some point after Kate’s sister, Bunny was born. Kate’s father is a scientist, Dr. Battista. I got the sense that he was not a good one…. I’m not sure why I thought that. I don’t believe Anne Tyler wanted that to be a fact, but … throughout the book I kept trying to like him and completely failed at that. Dr. Battista’s lab assistant, Pyotr, an immigrant, in the United States on a Work Visa was on the verge of perhaps being deported which would have put Dr. Battista’s research in jeopardy so the only solution was for Kate to marry him and help him get his green card.
The writing is beautiful as we all know Anne Tyler can do. The scene description made me feel like I was completely familiar with my surroundings and gave me the sense of being there, standing next to Kate when she told her co-workers about her impending marriage, or when her and Bunny talked to each other on the morning of the wedding.
As expected from Anne Tyler, each character was very well developed. None of them felt two dimentional at all. There was substance to who they were. Kate, although not very likable, was a good person and wanted to do right by her father and her family…. Dr. Battista, although a jerk, in my opinion, did the best he could and knew how, and even Pyotr, who may be as much a victim as he the aggressor. The only problem I had was the predictability. Once I got to know the characters the only one that surprised me was Bunny. There was very little Anne Tyler could do to make me believe, from the beginning that Pyotr was not going to turn to out to be who he was, or was he?
The story develops normally, as expected and then the end was a let down. It felt as if it was cut short. it didn’t flow and it didn’t fit the personalities of the characters. it felt fake and I felt as if I missed something.
Having said all this. I still thought the writing was very much worth it. I never once felt as if I needed to put the book down that stop reading. As a matter of fact I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. The hardest question is whether or not I would recommend it. I think the answer would be; if you like reading about families and the intricacies within a family unit…. what makes people who they are and how they get that way and if you like reading and feeling taken to the place you’re reading about, I would recommend the book. I would caution you that you will not be reading an award wining book (at least I don’t think you are). You will probably be disappointed at the end, and if you’re not I would love to speak to you about it…..what did I miss?