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Friday, 27 July 2012
‘Tigers in Red Weather’ by Liza Klaussmann
The book covers a period from December 1944 through to October 1969. The story is told by five members of the same family. Although the book is split into sections, each section being written in the first person by that family member, the time period in each section is not chronological. Thus piecing together the story is rather like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
Although murder is part of the story, it is in essence about relationships. In the opening section it is September 1945 and we meet the two cousins, Nick and Helena, in the house in Elm Street Cambridge Massachusetts, on the eve of change. Helena is off to Hollywood to be married for the second time, and Nick is to travel to be reunited with her husband Hughes who has been serving overseas. They console each other about living so far apart with the promise that they will meet up every summer at their houses on Martha’s Vineyard, and from then on most of the story takes place at Tiger House on Martha’s Vineyard.
But neither of their lives work-out as they had envisaged. Each time they meet up at Tiger House, the glamour and sophistication is much in evidence, but below the surface simmers, jealousy, infidelity and many secrets. When one summer, violence disrupts their reunion, mistrust and suspicion arrive at Tiger House to fester unfettered among the already complex passions that have grown up over the years.
The overriding feeling is tension. In a way unlike many books the tension doesn’t build up, it’s just there, right from the beginning tension smoulders behind every conversation, at every meeting, it is almost tangible. The ending was, gripping and unexpected.
This is an amazing debut. Complex and well plotted, I cannot wait to see where Liza Klausssmann takes us next.
Liza Klaussmann worked as a journalist for the New York Times for over a decade. She received a BA in Creative Writing from Barnard College, where she was awarded the Howard M. Teichman Prize for Prose. She lived in Paris for ten years and she recently completed with distinction an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, in London, where she lives. She is the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville.