I must admit that there was not much of the shrew with Kate Batista. If anything Kate, a nursery school assistant, comes across as a displaced and down trodden person who is floating through life rather than partaking of it. Viewing life from the outside. I keep flashing back to where her four year old girl students are playing with dolls and acting out life's situations and to Kate it seems so foreign. There is much of Kate that is silent and doll like, allowing life to happen around her, allowing other people to chart her path. She seems to have spent a lifetime trying to make up for what she's not. She does not believe in herself. She takes the line of least resistance, particularly having grown up with a brilliant and driven scientist father. Kate's father is a self centred man who analysis his world scientifically, governing the very food the family eats from a nutritional standpoint. They eat a meat mash concoction every night. Much is made of that relationship with food and in particular Kate's acquiescence to what is desired.
Dr. Battista (somewhere on the Aspergers continuum) gives Kate the gift of a personal remembrance. A rare and precious moment. He talks to Kate about her relationship with her mother and the fun things they used to do, a relationship Kate couldn't remember. This was important. Those memories relived could have helped Kate years before, but they were never extended. This was a poignant moment, a catalyst where things changed for Kate.
There are some absolutely delightful lines throughout. Tyler's turn of phrase and use of language is exquisite. I occasionally found myself breaking out into gusts of laughter.
I loved that Kate related more to her four year olds than grown ups. And the dilemma of the little boys who now wondered who they would marry, if not Kate was hilarious, charming and sad.
So distressed by the coming loss of his talented research assistant due to visa laws, Dr Battista decides that the only way forward is for Pyotr to marry Kate. He sets out to make this happen in all sorts of ways without telling Kate. There are some truly amusing moments. Pyotr is rather a gem and as the relationship between them develops, set against the background of the dysfunctional Battista family, we are treated to a magical and very human read.
There is not much that is vinegary about Kate. If however you know the Skipping Vinegar Girl neon sign where the girl is trapped, skipping eternally, then you capture something of Kate's life until now.
So glad I read this. I can think about it for ages!
A NetGalley ARC