Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tigers in Red Weather by: Liza Klaussman

Title: Tigers in Red Weather
Author: Liza Klaussman
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 353

Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha's Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their 'real lives': Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war. 

Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena's husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena--with their children, Daisy and Ed--try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same.

Brilliantly told from five points of view, with a magical elegance and suspenseful dark longing, Tigers in Red Weather is an unforgettable debut novel from a writer of extraordinary insight and accomplishment.

My thoughts:

Normally, people usually like books in which they can see at least parts of themselves. This is true for me as well, but visiting a life that's so very different from my own is a different kind of pleasure. Liza Klaussman's Tigers in Red Weather is one of these books.

Towards the end of World War II, cousins Nick and Helene spend summer months at the Tiger House on Martha's Vineyard. They swim, drink a whole lot and lead a life that looks happy from the outside. But, of course, both of them have family problems.

Tigers in Red Weather was a book that was more focused on the characters than the plot. The stories are told from different points of view, which was crafted masterfully. Just like any other family, these people have different personalities as well. They have different desires and dreams. Sometimes, they're in their business more than is okay, sometimes they help one another, and sometimes there's defeat. 

One day, Helena's son Ed finds one of the maids on the island dead, and shows the body to Nick's daughter Daisy. Not knowing how to deal with the situation, Nick calls on her husband Hughes. Hoping the death of the maid had nothing to do with his family, Hughes finds out things he wishes he never knew. As the narrator changes, the details also change and things get even more mixed up. In a good way, that is!

Tigers in Red Weather is classified as a summer book, but it's not empty and too-easy like most summer books. I read it in the fall, and it worked just as well. 

Also, I very much liked the fact that the book got its name from a Wallace Stevens poem

Disillusionment of Ten O'ClockThe houses are hauntedBy white night-gowns.None are green,Or purple with green rings,Or green with yellow rings,Or yellow with blue rings.None of them are strange,With socks of laceAnd beaded ceintures.People are not goingTo dream of baboons and periwinkles.Only, here and there, an old sailor,Drunk and asleep in his boots,Catches TigersIn red weather. 

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