Book review: Tigers in Red Weather, Liza Klaussmann

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Summer seemed to arrive at that moment, with its mysterious mixture of salt, cold flesh and fuel.” 

– Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summers at Tiger House, the glorious old family estate on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. As World War II ends they are on the cusp of adulthood, the world seeming to offer itself up to them. Helena is leaving for Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is to be reunited with her young husband Hughes, due to return from London and the war. Everything is about to change.

Published by Picador, 2 August 2012

RRP £12.99

 

Reviewer: Katy, Balldock, Hertfordshire

We follow the story of a family through the eyes of five key members.  Through two decades a intricate web is weaved showing the complexities of family life.  Although this family may not have the regular secrets most do, the general foundation of the story covers issues growing up and the mundaneness of marriage.  These issues are set against the backdrop of the beginning of the story, and touches on how WW2 affected relationships, which gives an effect of lost innocence.

Liza Kalussmann is a wonderfully descriptive writer who enables the reader to actively put themselves within the scene she is portraying.  The ‘secrets’ imbedded within the story are provocatively hinted at throughout the book, which keeps one eager to find the key. Where different viewpoints are given, the reader is allowed to see from many different perspectives which allows an almost three dimensional view of the story.

However, while the story is wonderfully set out, one does feel that not all the answers have been given.  This may be to allow for a further book to answer any lose ends and to chase up the many different stories within the pages of these people.

Overall, I really did enjoy the book, especially the descriptive style and would recommend it for others.  The only thing perhaps, I would add, is that there seemed to be many ‘sub’ stories and some of these may have got lost within the pages (such as the story of Avery).

 

Reviewer: Claire, Flitwick, Bedfordshire

Tigers in Red Weather is a wonderful novel and extremely well written, by Liza Klaussmann, set at the end of the Second World War on East Coast America. The story, based around 2 cousins Nick and Helena, is written as a 5 part narrative, first starting with Nick who slowly describes her married life to Hughes. She wants more for herself other than just being his wife, he is distant and unaffectionate, Nick longs to escape with dreams of better lives, until she discovers something about her husband which brings about a fear of losing him. The story then covers the next 25 years of their, and their, family’s lives. We see them move from Tiger House New England across America to Florida and LA but eventually returning to Tiger House. There is much intrigue and darkness, piece by piece exposed. Family rivalry jealousy and bitterness makes for a sinister and gripping read.

Nick and Hughes daughter daisy takes over the 2nd narrative and it is then we learn of her discovery of a body. Daisy has a good life, her father is wealthy, she has lived a privileged life but she is far from happy. She struggles with peer pressure and her feelings for a local boy which are not returned. She doesn’t understand the goings on in her family and her confusion is clear. It’s with the following 3 narratives however that the characters really begin to show their true selves each adding layer upon layer to the ever thickening plot of murder and darkness which will keep you gripped right to the end. The start is a slow struggle but persevere and you won’t be disappointed!

 

Reviewer: Mark, Loughborough, Leicestershire

I’m not sure what I expected when I saw the cover of Liza Klaussmann’s Tigers in Red Weather, my first thought was that it would be ‘chick lit’ and that I was going to hate it, but after reading up a little on the author (I’d never heard of her) I found that although this is her first novel, she has a good pedigree when it comes to writing. Her great-great-great-grandfather was Herman Melviile, author of Moby Dick.

Tigers in Red Weather is set just after World War II, it begins with cousins Nick and Helena drinking by a pool side, discussing husbands, followed by Nick travelling to be reunited with her husband Hughes. The first fifth of the book is told from the perspective of Nick, who struggles with married life and tries to find ways to fill her time. We then leap forward a decade and a bit and hear things from the side of Nick’s daughter, Daisy. The women’s side of things is concluded in the late sixties when we hear Helena’s part of the story. Then the men have their turn, as we go back to the fifties with Nick’s husband Hughes, and conclude in nineteen-sixty-nine with a short chapter from the view of Daisy’s husband Ed.

There was apparently a bidding war for this story, and I can only assume that this is due to the possibilities of a movie deal, as I can imagine it would make a visually stunning film. Sadly though, despite the literary background Klaussmann has, the book for me was a bore. On paper, it has everything that a good book should have, sex, skeletons in the closet, dead bodies, it ticks all the boxes.  I just didn’t feel that I connected with any of the characters or places. None of the situations felt like they were being described with any conviction. For instance, Nick enjoys Jazz/Blues music, but it felt like Klaussmann had googled musicians that were around at the time and shoe-horned the names and titles into the story, I didn’t get the feeling that Nick enjoyed or even knew anything about the music. Ultimately, I didn’t enjoy the book at all, but not because it is ‘chick lit’, but because is was badly written and not engaging.

 

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