According to this website, people with a pragmatic personality “love efficiency, hate wasting time, [and] will make decisions quickly.” I can’t say that’s not true about me. On the other hand, I don’t mind distancing myself from many of the antonyms of pragmatic–who wants to be impractical or unrealistic? But being more idealistic or visionary might not be such a bad thing.
“Pragmatic” also is a good descriptor for Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, my most recent selection from Blogging for Books.
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If you’ve heard about this book, you probably know that it’s a “retelling” of Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. If you’ve read more Shakespeare than I have, you may find it interesting to study the similarities and differences between the stories. While I found the book to be an enjoyable, quick read, I was hoping for more from the story line.
In this version, the “shrew” is Kate, an adult woman living at home with her widowed father and 15 year-old sister. Her father is a struggling scientist with a crisis on his hand:his research assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported … unless he can get married and obtain a Green Card that way. At first, Kate has no interest in taking part in this pragmatic scheme, but when her father persists, she reluctantly goes along with his plan.
I had a hard time remembering that this story is supposed to be taking place in current times. Maybe it was Kate’s inner dialog that sounded so dated–the stilted vocabulary, pervasive self-doubt, and occasional righteous indignation. Maybe it was her wardrobe–I think she wore “Levis” to work at the preschool! It could be a characteristic of a “retelling,” but I got the impression that if only a few details were changed this story could have taken place a century or two ago.
I forgave sudden plot twists and unexplained changes of heart because I assumed they were needed to follow the basic plot of the original story, but I wish there was more to this story. I wanted to know more about what Pyotr thought about all this. I wanted to know more about how Kate’s father coped with the reality of what he set in motion. I wanted to know how Kate’s sister reacted when her father hired a maid to keep an eye on her. I wanted to see how Kate and Pytor’s relationship crossed the line from pragmatic to romantic–if it ever did.
I chose this book to review from Blogging for Books because I like Anne Tyler. This wasn’t my favorite of her books, but it was an interesting take on a plot that dates back to the late 1500s.
Today’s Wednesday Word is pragmatic.
Are you more pragmatic or idealistic?
Have you read Vinegar Girl or The Taming of the Shrew?