Happy Bookers Discussion Group

The Happy Bookers is Phillipsburg Library’s monthly book discussion group.  We meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m.  Newcomers are always welcome, and no registration is necessary.  Call the library at 908-454-3712 for more information.

Next Meeting:
Wednesday, July 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl jacket

With Vinegar Girl, Pulitizer Prize winner Anne Tyler brings The Taming of the Shrew into the modern world. Kate is stuck in a life taking care of her absent minded professor father and her sister, Bunny. When her father suggests a marriage of convenience in order to secure a green card for his lab assistant Pyotr, Kate is shocked. This is a sweet and humorous story about two people, who don’t quite fit in, finding each other. Tyler’s wonderful writing updates and improves on the original. (LibraryReads)

Deeply and pleasurably inspired by her source, Tyler is marvelously nimble and effervescent in this charming, hilarious, and wickedly shrewd tale of reversal and revelation. ( Booklist).


Discussion Questions

  1. How do the two Kate’s—Anne Tyler’s and Shakespeare’s—differ in temperament? Both women are sharp-tongued, but what are there nuances which distinguish one from the other? Do you prefer one Kate over the other? If you haven’t (yet) read Shakespeare, then just talk about the modern Kate. Do you find her grumpy and unpleasant…or sympathetic? Does your view of her change during the course of the novel?
  2. What about the other characters: fathers and eventual husbands? Talk, especially, about the differences between Petruchio and Pytor.
  3. Critics, for years have been divided over the meaning of Shakespeare Kate’s speech in which she submits to her husband. Is it done with a wink (ironic) or spoken in earnest? What about Tyler’s Kate? How do the emphases of the two final speeches differ?
  4. Finally, of course, which version do you prefer? Does Tyler’s have the fireworks and passion of the original? Or does it strive for a different aesthetic?

Excepted from LitLovers


Additional Resources

Upcoming Selections

  • Kindred by Octavia Butler
  • Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rivka Brunt
  • Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Suggest a book for discussion